USGS Working on Flood Warning Improvements for Upper Spring River

(Google Earth)
(Google Earth)

JANUARY 24, 2007 - Posted at 4:17 p.m. CST

HARDY, AR - Anually, flooding causes more deaths nationwide than lightning and tornadoes combined.  September 26, 2006, was a tragic reminder of that statistic in northeast Arkansas with two flood-related deaths on the Spring River and her tributaries.  In response to this event and other historic flood-related problems, the city of Hardy has asked the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the National Weather Service, to develop a network of stream level and rainfall gages on the upper Spring River that would serve as an early flood warning system for portions of the Spring River in Fulton, Sharp, Lawrence and Randolph counties.

A meeting to discuss plans for the proposed system is being sponsored by the National Weather Service, and will be held at 7 p.m. on February 5 at the old Hardy school gym.

On September 22-24 of last year, a series of severe thunderstorms developed over northeast Arkansas, and radar estimates of rainfall showed that up to 15 inches of rainfall occured in areas throughout Sharp, Randolph, Clay and Fulton counties.  Water levels on the Spring River at Hardy rose 13 feet in less than twelve hours, with nearly an 8-foot rise occuring in less than two-and-a-half hours.  The peak water level was the highest recorded at the gage station since its installation in 2001.  Two people died as a result of the flash flooding.

Historically, levels were much higher in Hardy during the flood of December 1982.  With many more people now living in the area, a repeat of the flooding at the same level could result in many more lives lost and significanly higher dollar loss in property, according to the USGS.

"The proposed flood warning system was designed so that early notification of potential flooding could be provided to towns and communities located along the Spring River," said Steve Bays, service hydrologist at the NWS forecast office in North Little Rock.

The proposed warning system would add three streamgaging stations and three rain gages to the two existing streamflow stations and one rain gage operated by the USGS in the upper Spring River Basin.

Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose supports the proposed project.  "This is exactly what communities located along the Spring River need," he said.  "A good flood warning system will allow emergency response teams to warn people about risks to their property and lives."