JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Heavy rains Saturday caused flash flooding throughout parts of Region 8, including roads in the area.
The flooding also claimed the life of a Jonesboro man after authorities say he attempted to cross a flooded highway.
Loyd Cockrell of Jonesboro died after being swept away in rising floodwaters.
Authorities say he drowned late Friday as he attempted to drive along a flooded stretch of Highway 37 after going through three barricades.
Glen Dugan with the Tuckerman Police Department said officials have stressed the importance of paying attention to barricades and road closed signs.
“We don’t put them up there to inconvenience you, we put them up there for your safety, for everybody’s safety so that that doesn’t happen,” Dugan said. “We’ve seen it first hand.”
Jeff Presley, director of Jonesboro & Craighead County E-911, also reported several downtown Jonesboro streets were flooded Saturday after a storm dumped heavy rains on the area.
Streets reported flooded Saturday included:
- Monroe (behind Dispatch)
- Washington (in front of Justice Complex)
According to iDriveArkansas.com, Highway 1 in Wynne was open after flooding on Saturday while a half-mile area of Highway 226 west of Cash is closed.
Locally, Chris Doyle snapped this photo of Huntington Avenue underwater Saturday:
Things were not much better on Interstate 555 between Trumann and Marked Tree, as seen by this photo shared on Twitter from C-Hardin:
Officials in Caruthersville are also asking people to stay safe in the flooding, according to the police department’s Facebook page.
The rains also caused some flooding in the Grubbs area.
The medium risk for severe weather Saturday was positioned right over Region 8.
Strong storms were expected to erupt over Northeast Arkansas Saturday along a warm front, with the possibility of thunder, lightning and damaging winds.
The storms were also forecasted for the area Saturday afternoon between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The storms had been expected to be along a line between Wynne and Blytheville and southward, with people there facing the greatest risk of seeing severe storms.
However, those living above that line should not let their guard down. With severe storms, anything is possible.
Ryan says we should expect to see strong southerly winds with gusts over 40 miles starting around noon.
The winds will not necessarily be associated with individual storms. Instead, he says these are “gradient winds” which could cause a lot of damage.
“This will put a strain on trees with weak and soggy ground,” he says.
After the storms pass, the winds will shift direction. Northwesterly winds with gusts again exceeding 40 miles an hour will pummel the area.
“Expect some trees to fall and power to be possibly knocked out,” Ryan says.
In the event of severe weather, the City of Newport will open its safe room on Pecan Street to the public, according to a post on the Newport Police Department’s Facebook page.
Also, according to iDriveArkansas.com, the following roads in Region 8 are closed due to high water:
* Highway 226
* Highway 230
* Highway 118
* Highway 364
* Highway 37
* Highway 14
* Highway 18
* Highway 37
* Highway 42
* Highway 145
* Highway 224
* Highway 120
* Highway 158
* Highway 373
St. Francis County
* Highway 50
* Highway 33
* Highway 269
Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley also reported that the following streets in Jonesboro have seen flooding on Saturday:
* Behind the dispatch office on Monroe as well as on Washington in front of the Justice Complex.
Those with weekend plans should be weather aware, and be prepared to seek shelter should the storms turn severe.
Count on Chief Meteorologist Ryan Vaughan, along with Meteorologists Bryan McCormick and Zach Holder, and the Region 8 News team to provide you with up-to-the-minute coverage.
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Should a tornado warning be issued for our coverage area, we will provide live coverage on air and online. Watch live here: http://www.kait8.com/live/
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Keep in mind, there is a difference between a warning and a watch.
A Tornado Watch, according to the National Weather Service, means tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area.
A Tornado Warning means one has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take action and move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors seek shelter immediately.