Weather and Natural Disasters

12 Million Under Flood Warnings in South as Reported Tornadoes Hit Midwest

Alexander Smith
A high water sign is submerged near Lake Bistineau in Webster Parish, Louisiana March 14, 2016.
Therese Apel | Reuters

More than 12 million people were under flood warnings across the South early Wednesday as the region struggled to recover from a week of deadly thunderstorms.

Rivers were still rising in parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi early Wednesday, with 15 river gauges showing major flooding and a further 26 showing moderate flooding.

Although the worst of the rain stopped on Monday, the crest — or highest point — of several swollen rivers now has to move downstream to the sea.

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"The flooding will take a little while longer to subside, maybe into the weekend or even next week," said Kevin Roth, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel.

The storms last week were responsible for at least six deaths, forced thousands of people to flee their homes and caused travel chaos as countless roads flooded.

What the National Weather Service called a "historic flash flooding event" prompted Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency in 22 parishes.

However, the worst may be yet to come for places such as the flooded Texas town of Orange, 100 miles east of Houston.

The Sabine River, which runs alongside the town, was forecast to see its second highest crest on record Wednesday evening, Roth said.

According to The Weather Channel, more than 12 million people were under some type of flood watch or advisory early Wednesday. When the flooding finally subsides depends on the severity and location of several lingering, scattered thunderstorms are forecast for the coming days.

Hundreds of miles away from the floodwaters, the Illinois presidential primary was disrupted for some voters after 10 tornadoes touched down and caused damage between 6 p.m. and 8 .m. (7 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET) on Tuesday.


One reported twister in Peoria caused "significant damage" to a church, "snapped" trees, and blew the roof off a house, according to the National Weather Service. An 11th reported tornado touched down in Clinton, Iowa, where "mobile homes [were] blown over," the NWS said.

This system had mellowed into rain and thunder by early Wednesday.