Arkansans are assessing the damage following an Oct. 30 storm system that dumped more than 5 inches of rain in some areas in 24 hours on top of already saturated ground.
“Rainfall amounts as of this morning are running 3 to 6 inches,” said Brent Griffin, Prairie County Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, following the storm. “If White and Cache river forecasts hold true, this will put most, if not all, of the high ground under water east of Des Arc on Hwy 38 and north toward Augusta on Hwy 33.”
On Oct. 29, the Cache River at Patterson was at 10.4 feet, above its 8-foot flood stage. By Tuesday, the river is forecast to reach 11.3 feet.
In the fields, Griffin said there was “standing water under soybeans” and unharvested rice “is lodging and losing yield every day.”
Rising water levels were a big concern in Monroe County too, said Van Banks, county Extension staff chair. The morning of Oct. 29, the White River at Clarendon was at 27.6 feet — already above the 26-foot flood stage. By Nov. 2, the river is expected to reach 28 feet.
“Here, the water is up significantly,” said Banks. “Roads are covered in some places and a few houses are close to being flooded.
“It is much too wet to even consider any harvest plans. Very little cotton has been harvested. Soybeans and rice are being harvested between the showers. We need some airplanes with combine and cotton picker headers on them!”
Southeastern Arkansas received rain, but was outside the main thrust of the storms.
“I talked to the county judge and he said there are several roads gone along with culverts,” said Chad Norton, Lincoln County Extension staff chair. “There were spotty power outages, but I believe most are back on.
“I know of two trees that had to be removed from roads, however, we didn’t get very much wind.”
Even after the rain passed, falling trees were still posing a potential danger, said Tamara Walkingstick, associate center director for the Arkansas Forest Resources Center.
“With these saturated soils, if we get any wind today, we could see trees uprooted,” said Walkingstick. “Fortunately, many trees have lost all their leaves and we won’t have that ‘sail’ effect of leaves catching the wind.”
Unlike the spring rains, where some trees began to die from oxygen starvation after standing in water, “trees are going in to dormancy now, so there shouldn’t be any issues with trees that are standing in flooded areas now,” she said.
Phillips County saw an inch of rain Oct. 29 and another inch the next morning. However, no damage was reported and growers are focused on next week.
“With the weather forecast to be sunny starting tomorrow through the middle of next week, maybe, just maybe, farmers will be able to get back in to the field,” said Robert Goodson, Phillips County Extension agent. After speaking with farmers on Friday morning, he said: “They’re all hopeful about next week.”
North Little Rock reported 5.1 inches of rain for the 24-hour period reported at 7:25 a.m. by the National Weather Service. El Dorado recorded 4.7 inches, Newport, 4.1, Pine Bluff 3.2 inches, and Harrison, 2.6 inches. Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Texarkana, Russellville, Mount Ida, Highfill, Blytheville and West Memphis all reported more than an inch of rain.
At 6 a.m. on Oct. 30, the National Weather Service at North Little Rock issued a flood warning until noon for parts, or all, of 35 counties in Arkansas, due to runoff and rising rivers and streams. A flash flood watch was in effect for Calhoun, Clark, Cleburne, Cleveland, Conway, Dallas, Desha, Faulkner, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Hot Sprig, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Lonoke, Monroe, Ouachita, Perry, Prairie, Pulaski, Saline, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, White and Woodruff counties through the night.
A flash flood watch was also in effect for Crittenden, Cross, Greene, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Phillips, Poinsett, Randolph and St. Francis counties through the morning of Oct. 31.