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June 15, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Tragedy at Popular Arkansas Campsite; What to Expect Ahead

In the predawn hours this past Friday, torrential rains caused flash floods to hit a popular campsite in Arkansas. River levels rose as fast as 8 feet an hour, which triggered a wall of water to tear through the campsite while many people were asleep and unaware of what was happening. Unfortunately, officials say 20 people have been confirmed dead.


Image: CNN

The Albert Pike Recreation Area is one of the most popular spots in the Ouachita National Forest and is located only about 45 miles to the southwest of Hot Springs, Arkansas. As many as 300 people were believed to be in the area at the time of the flood but officials say it is still unclear as to how many were campers and how many were locals. Some campers had to cling to trees and vehicles for hours to survive as floods uprooted trees and tore asphalt from roads. Campers say the water rose through the night and the rain didn’t stop until after dawn and that is when the water also started to recede.


Damage from the flood that hit the Albert Pike Recreation Area early Friday. Image: CNN

Rescuers used helicopters, horses and canoes to search the mountainous areas as they focused on campsites along the Little Missouri and Caddo rivers in the Ouchita Mountains. More than 100 searchers combed the rugged woodlands and six dog teams were included in the rescue effort. Officials say that the flood struck so quickly there was little chance for campers to escape.


Campground flooded by the Caddo River. Image: AP

Unfortunately the threat for heavy rain isn’t over this week. A weak frontal boundary will be the focus mechanism for scattered showers and thunderstorms today from the Southern Plains into the Mississippi and Ohio Valley. Some storms will also spread into portions of Tennessee and parts of the Mid-Atlantic. Building instability during the afternoon could lead to the development of isolated severe storms. Heavy rainfall is also expected across portions of the Midwest and Southern Plains. Locally heavy rainfall could lead to areas of flash flooding, especially across areas where grounds have already been saturated by heavy rain previously.

Locally heavy rainfall (green) is expected from the southern Plains into the Midwest today. Isolated severe storms (red) will also be possible today. Hot and humid weather (orange) will continue over Texas and the Southeast with heat index values slightly above 100F. Image: ImpactWeather

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