Remembering the March 2016 flooding-Experts say it could happen again

(KNOE 8 WEATHER) - The rains that produced the 2016 ArkLaMiss flood began one year ago today.

The 3 days of rain that followed would produce one of the most prolific flood disasters parts of our area have ever seen.

The KNOE weather team dug into the science of this extreme event to explain how it came together.

"I've been in the business over 25 years, worked in several different markets, Texas Oklahoma and now Louisiana, the event of last year was just unprecedented."

KNOE Chief Meteorologist Tom Pearson watched the event unfold first hand behind the weather desk.

The storm was strong - slow moving - and unlike *anything* he had covered before
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Widespread rainfall amounts ranging between 15-20 inches fell area wide - in 3 days - more than any 3-day period ever previously recorded.

"That's approximately 45% of our average annual rainfall in 3 days. i don't care if you live in an area that gets 10 inches of rain in a year or 100 inches of rain in a year. if you get just under half your average annual rainfall in 3 days you're going to have significant problems"

The monster storm stalled out over the Midwest, extending as far south as central America - something very unusual for a non-tropical storm.

"Because of the synoptic pattern, the upper-air pattern we had a really strong connection to the tropics and that's where most of our moisture came from."

The result - 9500 homes with flood damage - 5400 of which were completely flooded - just in Ouachita parish alone.

Emergency managers were put to the test - executing more than 1700 high water rescues.

"I remember going home after the 2nd night and wondering if i could even get home - it was dark but there was enough ambient light and to see areas that were flooded that had never flooded before it was just unbelievable. and its the benchmark now"

Even in the days leading up to the event - forecasters like Michael Berry at the National Weather Service in Shreveport were tracking the evolution of the storm nearly a week in advance.

Berry says for our area - the threat of excessive rainfall can be one of the biggest threats our weather can produce - mainly because of people's desire to live on bodies of water that produce scenic landscapes.

"you gotta take into account what that body of water is going to do .how are they gonna respond and that's where a lot of people get in trouble."

And while events like this will inevitably cause widespread damage - advances in forecasting technology give the public days to prepare - rather than hours.

"We have come a long way over the last 25 years - in our ability to decipher the possibility of an excessive heavy rainfall like this not only amounts but locations"

Statistically - the ArkLaMiss floods are considered a 500 year event, but both the National Weather Service and our weather department here at KNOE agree that term is bit misleading, and it could happen again, much sooner than you think.

"Just because we call it a 500 year flood it absolutely does not mean that it will be another 500 years until we see a flood of this magnitude. That's just the statistics. obviously it might be 2000 years before we an event like this again. it might be 2 years it might be 2 months. But I hope i never see an event like that again"



 
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