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National Weather Service issues flash flood watch for much of Arkansas, warns of more rainfall

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas was spared severe flooding that was possible heading into Memorial Day, but National Weather Forecasters said Monday that overnight rains could cause flash flooding across the already saturated state.

Jared Guyer with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said a squall line that spawned tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas would shift into Arkansas late Monday. He said the conditions were right for weaker tornadoes or even a stronger one.

"By and large the wind damage should be the most prevalent but that's not to say there won't be some tornadoes as well," Guyer said.

The storm system is also expected to further drench the state.

A flash flood watch was issued for much of Arkansas, but meteorologist Brian Smith in North Little Rock said the minor rainfall predicted Monday shouldn't cause any short term flooding. However, the 1 to 3 inches of rain expected in west and southwest Arkansas overnight could cause heightened river levels and flash flooding, he said.

The highest amount of rainfall during the past 30 days has been in Big Fork, which has received 21.26 inches. About 6.2 inches has fallen across Little Rock over the same period.

Smith said rain is predicted pretty much every day for the next week. Any extra water, he said, brings with it the chance for more flooding.

"The ground is still saturated and really can't hold much more," Smith said. "Basically, it's rain a lot of us don't need."

The weather service had predicted up to 5 inches of rain overnight into the holiday, which was somewhat dampened by already flooded lake campsites and boat ramps. Recreational boats and watercraft have been indefinitely banned on the Arkansas River since the Army Corps of Engineers issued a small craft advisory on May 8.

The Arkansas River is expected to rise throughout the week and may exceeded flood levels in Little Rock by Friday, said meteorologist Julie Lesko with the North Little Rock office. The river was at 14 feet Monday and was projected to rise to more than 22 feet Friday — less than a foot shy of the flood stage. Water levels that high would flood wetlands near the Clinton Presidential Library and force North Little Rock to close its sewer system flood gates to prevent a backup.

Rick Fahr said state emergency crews were on alert over the weekend but never called into action.

"We didn't get it nearly as bad as we thought we might," Fahr said. "Long-term, we still expect to have a significant amount of flooding."

He said a few water rescues were reported overnight and that two unidentified women were injured after a tree fell through an outhouse in Saline County. He said they were taken to a hospital, but their conditions are unclear.

The Crawford County Sheriff's Office reported two people who were swept into Lee Creek Monday had been rescued.

Fahr warned drivers to steer clear of high water and said responders are preparing for more severe weather.

"We've been in a terrible pattern of just rainfall after rainfall after rainfall," Fahr said.


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