May 27, 2019

Central U.S. severe weather: Arkansas River set for historic flooding

Photo: Arkansas National Guard/Facebook

Communities in the Plains and Midwest were bracing for more severe weather Monday — with the National Weather Service warning those along the Arkansas River of a "dangerous and life threatening situation" with "near catastrophic flooding."

Details: Fort Smith, on the border with Oklahoma, is expected to be one of the worst-hit areas. The NWS warns businesses there to be prepared to be "severely flooded." The Arkansas River reached 38.2 feet near the city Sunday, surpassing the crest of 38.1 feet set in April 1945, AP notes.

  • At Van Buren, the river reached 37.59 feet. The NWS forecasts it could rise past the record 38.1 feet, as major flooding continues for days.
  • Flooding is also forecast along the Mississippi River, with the NWS predicting
    severe storms possible by Tuesday night. The river has already crested and hit major flooding stages in several parts, the Belleville News Democrat reports, and it's set to rise further over the coming days.
  • Louisiana is expected to open the Morganza Spillway flood-control structure in early June to cope with the deluge, meteorologist Jeff Masters writes on Weather Underground.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freeman: It's not surprising that rivers large and small are cresting above levels seen during any previous flood in history in the Plains and Midwest. Round after round of severe thunderstorms have plagued the region this spring, producing extraordinary rainfall totals on top of earlier snowmelt-related flooding. Such precipitation extremes are consistent with what is expected as the climate warms, since warmer air carries (and delivers) more moisture. Stuck, highly amplified jet stream patterns have also been tied to climate change in some studies.

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Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

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Demonstrators gather at Lafayette Park across from the White House to protest the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

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President Trump at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Saul Martinez/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Saturday evening he would postpone the G7 summit to September and expand the meeting to more nations that are not members of the Group of 7.

Details: Trump said he would invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to the summit, according to a pool report. "I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries," he said.