September 24, 2005 -- Posted at 9:37 am CDT
Flash flood watch in southwest Arkansas after Hurricane Rita
HOPE, Ark. (AP) _ A flash flood watch is in effect until tomorrow morning for southwest Arkansas and wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour are forecast for the Hope and El Dorado areas.
Hurricane Rita made landfall on the Texas-Louisiana coastal borderline early this morning, bringing a 20-foot storm surge and up to 25 inches of rain.
Within hours the hurricane had weakened to a Category Two storm with top winds up to 100 miles per hour as it moved farther inland.
It's expected to turn into a tropical storm tonight.
Weather forecasters predict Arkansas will get five inches or more in southwest and southcentral regions -- this coming after drought conditions earlier this summer. Hurricane expected to stall and flood
The system is expected to drench the Texas-Louisiana border from the coast to Texarkana with eight inches to two feet of rain. Hurricanes are guided by winds at upper levels of the atmosphere, known as steering currents.
There often is a brisk steering current blowing west-to-east that moves a storm quickly. The forecasters don't know how long Rita might sit on the Texas-Louisiana border, but they do have a rainfall prediction -- as much as 25 inches.
That's likely to mean severe flash flooding, especially in low-lying spots and urban areas where there is lots of concrete. In Texas, forecasters warn of such flooding in Texarkana, Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Tyler, Houston and Beaumont. In Louisiana, Shreveport, Bossier City, Lake Charles, and possibly Monroe and Alexandria are at risk.