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River nears crest in west Arkansas, but more rainfall looms

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) – Thunderstorms are expected to bring unwanted rain to areas along the Arkansas River, which is predicted to crest Wednesday well above record levels in western Arkansas.

Forecasters nudged down by 1.5 feet the predicted crest near Fort Smith, the state’s second-largest city. But they say the river levels will still exceed the previous record there by several feet.

One death in Arkansas has been attributed to the flooding, which also persists in parts of Oklahoma. Two levees have been topped in rural areas of Arkansas.

In Tulsa, Mayor G.T. Bynum said Tuesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue releasing 275,000 cubic feet (7,787 cubic meters) per second to help drain the swollen Keystone Lake reservoir. Bynum says that number could increase depending on the rainfall.

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River Levels Now Above 1990 And 2015 Floods

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The Arkansas River’s crest is now expected to take place Tuesday (May 28) evening.

The Arkansas State Emergency Operations Center went into full activation due to the historic flooding.

River levels are now (May 25, 7:20 p.m.) at 36.17 feet, breaking the 1990 record.

The highest ever recorded levels of the Arkansas River was 38.10 feet in 1945.

 

(Reuters) – Weather forecasters on Wednesday expected drenching rains to roll into the storm-ravaged U.S. southern and central states, where thunderstorms and tornadoes killed at least three people and triggered widespread flooding.

Rain, flooding expected in U.S. Southern Plains after deadly storms

Rescue services help a man whose vehicle had been swept off the roadway by fast-moving water in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, U.S., May 21, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media on May 21, 2019. Broken Arrow Fire Department/via REUTERS

More than 30 tornadoes struck a swath from Texas to Iowa since Monday, according to the National Weather Service, and residents in at least three Oklahoma riverfront communities were urged to evacuate due to flooding.

One person was killed and another was injured when a tornado struck the rural town of Adair, Iowa, about 50 miles (80 km)west of Des Moines, at about 1:30 a.m. local time, the weather service said.

While the weakening storm system moved into the Great Lakes region early Wednesday, another system was expected to brew Wednesday night into Thursday, said Brian Hurley, a forecaster with the service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“The southern Plains can’t catch a break,” Hurley said. “That whole area is still under the gun.”

Rainfall is predicted to be about 2 inches (5 cm) across eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and into western Missouri, with localized spots getting up to 5 inches (13 cm), he said.

In Oklahoma, heavy rainfall prompted the Army Corps of Engineers to plan to increase the water flow at the Keystone Dam on the Arkansas River by nearly 30%, putting some low-lying communities at risk.

State emergency officials issued evacuation advisories for residents in parts of the Tulsa suburb of Sand Springs, Fort Gibson, about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Tulsa, and Webbers Falls, 70 miles (113 km) southeast of Tulsa.

“At this point it is voluntary,” Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jerry Lojka said by phone.

“The major concern is that all of those communities are right on the Arkansas River,” said Lojka. “They’re pretty close to flood stage as it is and if they increase the flow, they’re afraid that it’s going to go over its banks.”

In Missouri, cresting rivers prompted Governor Mike Parson to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday.

Forecasters said the Missouri River was expected to crest on Thursday at more than 32 feet (9.75 meters) at the state capital, Jefferson City. Local media said that would be 2 feet (61 cm) higher than the city’s levees.

Two people died in a traffic accident late Monday on a rain-slicked Missouri highway, police said. Another seven people were injured in Wheatland when a tornado struck the Lucas Oil Speedway.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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The sunshine on Friday is misleading with several rounds of active weather expected for both the weekend and next week.

This weekend, scattered storms are possible on both Saturday and Sunday. First in the morning, then again with daytime heating in the afternoon/evening.

The bigger system next week will stretch from Tuesday PM into Thursday.

Let’s look at the weekend first…

SATURDAY 10AM:

Weekend Storms; Next Week’s Flooding & Severe Weather

A boundary driven in by an active northwest flow will cause scattered showers and thunderstorms during the first part of the day on Saturday. This image is 10am. Most showers will be out of the area by Noon.

SATURDAY 5PM:

Weekend Storms; Next Week’s Flooding & Severe Weather

The boundary from the morning will restart thunderstorms with daytime heating. These storms could be severe. The exact placement of the storms on Saturday afternoon will depend on how far south the boundary goes in the morning. Right now, it appears it’ll be mostly south of I40.

Weekend Storms; Next Week’s Flooding & Severe Weather

The Storm Prediction Center shows the “Marginal Level 1” risk in the darker green. This is current location that is most favored for an isolated severe storm with afternoon redevelopment.

SUNDAY 10AM

Weekend Storms; Next Week’s Flooding & Severe Weather

Scattered showers will be underway on Sunday morning with warm, moisture pushing northward into Oklahoma and Arkansas. This will be driven by the low level jet stream and likely be confined to the morning time before Noon. Scattered showers should fade as the day progresses on Sunday.

MONDAY 7AM

Weekend Storms; Next Week’s Flooding & Severe Weather

Much like Saturday and Sunday, the highest chance for rain on Monday will be during the first part of the day. This is also associated with deep moisture returning to the area. The highest rain chances on Monday will be before Noon.

TUESDAY PM THRU THURSDAY

Weekend Storms; Next Week’s Flooding & Severe Weather

The prevailing pattern for the middle of next week features a strong southwest flow in the subtropical jet coupling with a trough embedded with the polar jet stream. The front will be parallel to the mean flow with winds aloft diverging or moving in separate directions.

Weekend Storms; Next Week’s Flooding & Severe Weather

This is a signal for a very heavy rain event with the potential for flash flooding. There will also be enough minor small systems embedded in the flow to cause a few rounds of severe thunderstorms; although, the timing is still yet to be determined this far out.

Plan on active weather this weekend and especially next week.

Given the time of year, tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds, and flash flooding are all certainly a possibility.

-Garrett

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Tracking Storms Late Wednesday Into Thursday

Severe thunderstorms are expected to develop late this evening across Oklahoma and Texas and then move into Arkansas around Midnight.

The southern line of storms will consist of storms that develop along the dry-line and will likely be severe. At this point it appears the worst of these storms could stay to our south.

The northern line of storms will develop along a cold front in Kansas and Oklahoma and weaken as it moves east.

Lingering rain will be ongoing for Thursday morning.

The main threat with all storms will be large hail. A few storms could contain damaging wind. A limited tornado threat also exists with any isolated storms that develop ahead of the line.

-Garrett

0

Lots of heavy rain and wind are expected for Saturday as a major system closes in around Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Saturday: Rainy, Windy, And Cool

WHAT TO EXPECT:

  • 1-3 inches of rain (heavier amounts south of I-40)
  • Wind gusts 40MPH +
  • Temperatures staying in the 50s

FUTURECAST SATURDAY

Saturday: Rainy, Windy, And Cool

Rain bands will move in from the southwest and spread northeast.  The heaviest rain will fall from 8AM until 6PM. There could be some rumbles of thunder in the River Valley Saturday afternoon. Showers and storms should stay below severe limits.  The rain will come to an end Sunday morning. The clouds may clear before sunset as the weekend comes to a close.

Saturday: Rainy, Windy, And Cool

RAINFALL EXPECTATIONS

Saturday: Rainy, Windy, And Cool

-Matt

 

After a gorgeous Friday it may be difficult to believe that severe weather is expected for parts of the state on Saturday.

First is important to note that there will be a sharp cut-off on where the severe weather is possible and it is all dependent of the track of the low pressure and position of the warm front. No severe weather is expected to the northwest of Little Rock.

Check out the map below for which parts of the state could see severe weather starting early as 1 p.m. Saturday for south Arkansas and expanding north through the day until as late as 11 p.m.

Severe wx threat

KTHV

RED ZONE: (Camden, Monticello, Warren, El Dorado)  Severe Weather Likely, with storms in the afternoon and evening possibly producing large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes (including strong and long-tracked).

ORANGE ZONE: (Pine Bluff, Arkadelphia, Stuttgart)  Severe Weather Possible with storms in the afternoon and evening capable of producing damaging winds, large hail and a weak spin-up tornado.

YELLOW ZONE: ( Hot Springs, Little Rock) Low risk of severe weather but some storms in the evening could produce damaging winds and large hail. Tornado threat low.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Stay weather aware.

Download the THV11 app and make sure you have settings to allow weather alerts.

Make sure your NOAA radio is good to go.

If you live in a mobile or manufactured home have a place to go that is much safer, a shelter, another home that is well constructed and anchored to the ground with interior rooms that do not have windows.

Below is some advice from the National Weather Service on tornado safety.

Wx safety

KTHV

EXPECTED SCENARIO:

A low pressure system will develop in east Texas and swing across central Arkansas through the day on Saturday dragging a cold front through the area Saturday evening. As the low develops it will pull in warm and moist air from Louisiana into southern parts of the state. This will set the stage for the potential of severe weather in this area.

The tornado risk is high in southeast Arkansas because there are high winds about 5,000 feet that will cause the storms to rotate in this region.

Wx graph 1

KTHV

Wx graph 2

KTHV

FLASH FLOODING:

Heavy rain through the day could cause smaller creeks and streams to rise out of their banks. Water could also pond in low lying or poor drainage areas. Rainfall totals from this event will range from 1 to 3”. Isolated locations could see more if heavy rain falls in a location for a long period of time.

Rain

KTHV

FUTURE RADAR: The time could be off a couple of hours.

Below shows what the radar is expected to look like through the day. We will be watching the potential of supercells developing in the RED ZONE ahead of the cold front as it charges through Saturday afternoon and evening. The threat of severe weather should be done for Arkansas by 11 p.m.

If there is sunshine in southeast or south Arkansas, the threat of severe weather will increase. Sunshine in this set-up is like adding fuel to the fire.

8 a.m. wx

KTHV

12 p.m. wx

KTHV

3 p.m. wx

KTHV

5 p.m. wx

KTHV

8 p.m. wx

KTHV

Arkansas Advocates 2019 Legislative Session Recap, Vol. 11

As expected, several committees and the House met today, in an effort to get through the many bills still left to cover before the end of the session. The AACF staff has been hard at work, doing outreach, building relationships and spending hours in committee meetings watching over bills important to Arkansas’s kids and families.

Watch this video of Jackie Govan, Collaboration Director at the Arkansas Head Start Association, sharing the importance of early childhood education and the need to support the workforce responsible for educating our littlest learners.

 

Here are updates on the bills we’re tracking:

Headline News

ARKANSAS MEDICAID: In case you missed it, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg ruled on Wednesday that Arkansas’s work reporting requirement for the Arkansas Works program cannot continue because it violates the purpose of Medicaid. Relevant to the ruling, Senate Bill 99, which would allocate funding for the Department of Human Services – Division of Medical Services (which funds Medicaid) passed out of the Senate Wednesday, but failed to pass off the House floor today.

Moving Right Along

EARLY CHILDHOOD WORKFORCE: Senate Bill 618, sponsored by Sen. Sturch, is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee on Monday. The bill seeks to address the need for high-quality educators for Arkansas children aged 0 to 5 with a four-year pilot program incentivizing early childhood educators to advance their education in the early childhood discipline. The bill would provide a tax incentive for qualifying early childhood program directors, teachers and instructional staff who meet certain criteria. The credit amount would increase based upon the level of education attained.

IMMIGRATION: House Bill 1684 passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee today. The bill would require that students who graduate from Arkansas high schools – as long as they’ve attended at least three years – be eligible to pay in-state tuition prices at state colleges and universities. Currently, some students who weren’t born in the U.S. must pay out-of-state or international tuition prices, even if they’ve attended Arkansas public schools for many years.

JUVENILE JUSTICE: House Bill 1755, which limits the use of solitary confinement on juveniles under age 18, passed off the House floor on Wednesday and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is scheduled to be heard on Monday.

Senate Bill 506 passed out of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Thursday. The bill extends the operations of the Youth Justice Reform Board until June 30, 2021. It’s scheduled to be heard by the House on Monday.

SCHOOL VOUCHERS: Senate Bill 539 passed out of the Senate on Thursday and has been referred to the House Education Committee. The bill would create a statewide voucher program, allowing the use of public tax funds to pay for private school tuition.

VAPING TAX: Senate Bill 571 was amended twice this week by House members. The bill now lowers the tax rates on income below $22,199, to be paid for by taxing e-cigarettes at the same rate as tobacco products.

RESTRICTIONS ON FOOD ASSISTANCE: House Bill 1731 passed out of the House on Monday and was referred to the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. The bill would deny parents from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during any month in which they are delinquent on child support. It would cut benefits for the entire household, even in if there are children in the home.

House Bill 1743 failed to get off the House floor this week and was re-referred to the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor. The bill would restrict the items purchasable with food stamps.

House Bill 1775 passed out of the House and has been referred to the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. The bill would expand work requirements for low-income Arkansans who receive SNAP, including those with dependent children older than 6.

MINIMUM WAGE ROLLBACKS: Two bills that would roll back the voter-approved minimum wage increases cleared the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor. Both bills aim to cap the state minimum wage at $9.25 per hour for certain Arkansans. House Bill 1752 passed late Thursday night and would cap the wage for workers employed by businesses with fewer than 25 employees, by nonprofit developmental service providers, and by nonprofits with operating budgets of less than $1 million. House Bill 1753 was amended on Monday and passed the committee on Tuesday. This bill would cap the minimum wage for workers under age 20. Both bills would exclude thousands of Arkansans from the wage increases to $10 on January 1, 2020 and $11 on January 1, 2021, which were approved by 68 percent of Arkansas voters last November.

CHILD WELFARE: House Bill 1488 has been rescheduled to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. The bill would create greater oversight of adoptions, especially among the Marshallese population in Northwest Arkansas. It would make it a felony to coerce a pregnant woman to give up her baby for adoption.

INTERNET SALES TAX: Senate Bill 576 passed out of the Senate on Monday and has been referred to the House Committee on Revenue and Taxation. The bill would require the collection of sales and use tax by certain online sellers, as well as reduce the corporate income tax rates.

Heading to the Governor

JUVENILE JUSTICE: Senate Bill 573, sponsored by Sen. Leding and Rep. Clowney, passed the Senate on Monday and the House on Thursday. The bill ensures inmates, convicted and sentenced as adults for offenses committed before the age of 18, aren’t prevented from participating in the educational, training or rehabilitative programs available at the correctional facility where they are housed. It also allows the parole board to discharge offenders who committed an offense as a minor, under certain circumstances, and provides for the reinstatement of the right to vote for individuals discharged from parole.

EDUCATION: House Bill 1409, which requires all elementary school students in Arkansas public schools to have at least 40 minutes of recess each day, passed out of the Senate on Wednesday and will go to the Governor for signing.

HEALTH: House Bill 1263 passed out of the Senate on Wednesday and will go to the Governor. The bill authorizes pharmacists to dispense nicotine replacement products without a prescription.

Signed into Law

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: Senate Bill 381 is now Act 557. The law, co-sponsored by Sen. Elliott and Rep. Vaught, prohibits the use of corporal punishment in Arkansas public schools on children with certain disabilities.


As the session progresses, we will continue tracking bills that could affect the welfare of children and low-income Arkansas families. Keep an eye on our blog for the latest news and updates, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional thoughts and analysis.

Arkansas Advocates 2019 Legislative Session Recap, Vol. 11