Sunday, May 18, 2014

Historic Hot Springs Flood... 24 Years Later




I'm sure many of you remember this horrible day in our state's weather history and have your story to tell of that night.  Please do so in the comment section.

It was the night of May 19th into the morning hours of May 20th, 1990.  I was listening to the "Weather Net" on my dads ham radio.  Severe thunderstorms over Garland county were on the move towards Little Rock and I was waiting for them.  That wait would continue for many hours as the storms stalled and massive flooding hit the Hot Springs downtown area.  I remember hearing the traffic on the radio and all the news coming out of there was bad.  More than 12 inches of rain fell in a short period of time.

Here's a paragraph of the report issued by the USGS of the event.  Also, below, watch video from that night.  The first YouTube video I uploaded from the KATV archive.  The second piece of video I stumbled upon with a YouTube search.

"Severe thunderstorms, which produced heavy rainfall in west-central Arkansas, resulted in
extensive flash flooding on May 19-20, 1990. The greatest rainfall occurred in the vicinity of Hot Springs. Personnel at the Hot Springs National Park Service rainfall station in Hot
Springs recorded 12.97 inches of rain within a 24-hour period. Maximum rainfall totals for the 6-, 12-, and 24-hour periods at Remmel Dam and Carpenter Dam had recurrence intervals that exceeded 100 years. Peak discharges at stations on Fourche A Loupe Creek near Hot Springs, Gulpha Creek near Hot Springs, and Valley Creek near Point Cedar exceeded the 100-year recurrence-interval discharges. Peak stages for Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs was 0.12 foot below the 100-year flood stage, and Lake Catherine at Jones Mill was 5.0 feet higher than the 100-year flood stage. Water-surface profiles were developed for Ouachita River, Gulpha Creek, Hot Springs Creek, and Whittington Creek. Stage hydrographs for four rivers and two lakes also are included in the report to indicate the duration of flooding at selected stations.


Rainfall for spring 1990 generally was above normal in western Arkansas. On May 19-20,
1990, a series of severe thunderstorms developed over west-central Arkansas and produced rainfall that exceeded 10 inches at several rainfall recording stations. Severe flooding caused by the excessive rainfall damaged numerous bridges and homes and resulted in the loss of one life. The vicinity of Hot Springs in Garland County was hardest hit. Floodwaters 2 to 4 ft deep rushed through the historic downtown area of Hot Springs, causing extensive damage to private and public property. This report summarizes rainfall amounts, flood damage, peak stages and discharges, and
lake-storage data for selected stations in the vicinity of Hot Springs. The study area and
locations of gaging stations are shown in figure 1. Information contained in this report was
provided by Arkansas Power and Light Company; National Weather Service (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1990); The Sentinel-Record, Hot Springs, Arkansas; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District; and the U.S. Geological Survey. This report was prepared in cooperation with Arkansas Power and Light Company, the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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