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Analysis and inundation mapping of the April-May 2011 flood at selected locations in northern and eastern Arkansas and southern Missouri

August 27, 2013

Precipitation that fell from April 19 through May 3, 2011, resulted in widespread flooding across northern and eastern Arkansas and southern Missouri. The first storm produced a total of approximately 16 inches of precipitation over an 8-day period, and the following storms produced as much as 12 inches of precipitation over a 2-day period. Moderate to major flooding occurred quickly along many streams within Arkansas and Missouri (including the Black, Cache, Illinois, St. Francis, and White Rivers) at levels that had not been seen since the historic 1927 floods. The 2011 flood claimed an estimated 21 lives in Arkansas and Missouri, and damage caused by the flooding resulted in a Federal Disaster Declaration for 59 Arkansas counties that received Federal or State assistance. To further the goal of documenting and understanding floods, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers–Little Rock and Memphis Districts, and Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, conducted a study to summarize meteorological and hydrological conditions before the flood; computed flood-peak magnitudes for 39 streamgages; estimated annual exceedance probabilities for 37 of those streamgages; determined the joint probabilities for 11 streamgages paired to the Mississippi River at Helena, Arkansas, which refers to the probability that locations on two paired streams simultaneously experience floods of a magnitude greater than or equal to a given annual exceedance probability; collected high-water marks; constructed flood-peak inundation maps showing maximum flood extent and water depths; and summarized flood damages and effects.

For the period of record used in this report, peak-of-record stage occurred at 24 of the 39 streamgages, and peak-of-record streamflow occurred at 13 of the 30 streamgages where streamflow was determined. Annual exceedance probabilities were estimated to be less than 0.5 percent at three streamgages. The joint probability values for streamgages paired with the Mississippi River at Helena, Ark., streamgage indicate a low probability of concurrent flooding with the paired streamgages. The inundation maps show the flood-peak extent and water depth of flooding for two stream reaches on the White River and two on the Black River; the vicinities of the communities of Holly Grove and Cotton Plant, Ark.; a reach of the White River that includes the crossing of Interstate 40 north of De Valls Bluff, Ark.; and the Tailwaters of Beaver Dam near Eureka Springs, Ark., Table Rock Dam near Branson, Mo., and Bull Shoals Dam near Flippin, Ark. The data and inundation maps can be used for flood response, recovery, and planning efforts by Federal, State, and local agencies.

Publication Year 2013
Title Analysis and inundation mapping of the April-May 2011 flood at selected locations in northern and eastern Arkansas and southern Missouri
DOI 10.3133/sir20135148
Authors Drew A. Westerman, Katherine R. Merriman, Jeanne L. De Lanois, Charles Berenbrock
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2013-5148
Index ID sir20135148
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Arkansas Water Science Center