Heavy rains possible in the south central United States

Parts of eastern Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and western Mississippi could see over five inches of rain through March 13. Could flooding become an issue?

I have good and bad news for parts of eastern Texas. Good news: you might be able to eliminate the current drought conditions you have experienced over the past year after early next week. Bad news: you might see some flash flooding.

A series of systems are expected to develop and stall across the nation’s heartland within the next five days. Areas such as eastern Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and western Mississippi could see rainfall totals exceeding five inches when everything is said and done. If these rainfall totals add up, flooding could become an issue across these areas as too much rainfall is accumulating in a short period of time.

Here’s the current drought indicator across the United States:

Drought monitor across the United States. Image Credit: NOAA/NWS

Here’s the drought outlook showing who could stay dry and who will receive rainfall:

Drought outlook for March 2012. Image Credit: NOAA/NWS

The areas still experiencing drought conditions are primarily across western Texas and central and southern Georgia. Portions of eastern Texas and southeast Oklahoma has seen drought relief during the fall and winter months after experiencing one of the worst droughts seen in the region in years this past summer. If eastern Texas receives a lot of rain (exceeding two inches), the moderate to severe drought could be lowered/dropped.

The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, which makes future forecasts such as rainfall totals, adds a bulls eye of 8.4 inches of rain accumulating around the Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas border. A large area could see five to seven inches of rain within the next five days. Here’s the graphic:

Five day rainfall totals from 3/8/2012 to 3/13/2012. Image Credit: HPC

A cut off low across the southwestern United States and a high amplitude pattern will result in the beneficial rainfall across the area. In a way, there will be blocking across the western and eastern United States due to a high amplitude pattern, and this will result in heavy rainfall across the southern/central United States just along the Mississippi River. It is important to note that rainfall totals seen above will likely change as we enter the weekend. In my opinion, rainfall totals will likely have a range from three to six inches of rain. I think the biggest and most likely areas to see the heavy rain will be across Arkansas and Louisiana.

Bottom line: it will be a wet five days across eastern Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and western Mississippi as a system practically stalls across these areas. Rainfall totals could range from three to six inches, with some areas receiving over seven inches in very localized areas. Weather models can and do change, so the chances of these areas seeing less or more could occur. Regardless, these areas should be prepared to see some type of flooding in these regions, especially if these forecasts verify. It is great news for eastern Texas to help them erode the drought conditions, but too much rain can still cause issues. The other states are not in a drought condition, so it is possible these areas could easily see flooding. Don’t forget your umbrella!

Matt Daniel