NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR – Anyone who plans to go camping over the holiday weekend is warned to keep an eye on the weather, especially in the state’s south, west and central regions.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management issued a news release Friday urging extreme caution over the Memorial Day weekend as additional rainfall could result in flash flooding throughout the state.
Rainfall amounts through Monday could total 3-5 inches in the southwest corner of the state, 2-4 inches across much of the western and central portions and 1-2 inches in the east. Because many lakes and rivers are at or near flood stage already, National Weather Service officials have begun issuing flash flood watches for numerous counties.
“The worst of it will be Sunday afternoon through Sunday evening. That’s the worrisome part – when people are already settled into their camping or whatever they are doing. That’s why we are trying to push out this information ahead of time,” said Tabitha Clarke, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Little Rock. “Rainfall amounts will likely not be as impressive as other events we’ve had, but because we are already saturated, that’s why the flooding will occur, and when the rainfall gets here, it will likely be very intense in a short amount of time.”
The area of most concern is along the Red River in Southwest Arkansas, though the Arkansas River could rise significantly again if the heaviest expected rainfall shifts northward.
During a conference call Friday morning with county emergency managers and elected officials, ADEM Director David Maxwell encouraged the group to be ready for the worst.
“Have your sandbags ready. Have a supply a sand ready to go. Be as prepared as you can be,” he warned.
Officials noted that residents should pay careful attention to water levels if they are around rivers, streams or lakes; monitor weather conditions and forecasts; and avoid driving through water.