Flooding in Arkansas shows how tropical moisture can enhance storms

The remnants of Hurricane Barry are moving north through Missouri as of Tuesday, but the system’s feed of tropical moisture is still flowing over Louisiana and Arkansas too. That moisture contributed to intense flooding over Arkansas Tuesday morning. The flash flooding even washed out the roadway of a few highways according to the Arkansas Department of Transportation:

A set of thunderstorms stalled near the city of Nashville, Ark. early Tuesday morning and dumped between 10” and 20” of rain based on radar estimates; the highest reported measured totals are near 12″-14″.

Thunderstorms are a lot like water pumps. Even though we sometimes describe raining ‘coming down in buckets,’ a storm really behaves more like a pump pulling in water from all around it and pouring it out in one place. That’s how we can get some of these incredible rainfall totals over small areas in tropical air masses.

The movement of tropical systems can worsen flooding as well. That’s because tropical systems often slow down over land; they lose the forward momentum that they had over the ocean when they run into the coastline, which leaves communities in their path with days of rain and storms. That means not only can the rainfall itself become excessively heavy, but it can also last an excessive amount of time.

We don’t expect the same kind of set-up here in Alabama, but we may get some small areas where rain is much heavier and persistent than others. Be on the lookout for some flooding early Wednesday if those storms set up shop near you overnight!

For more details on your local forecast check out our forecast discussion here: whnt.com/forecast

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