On June 11, 2010, a powerful flash flood hit the campgrounds in the Albert Pike Recreation Area (Figure 1) in Arkansas. The current death toll from these raging waters stands at 20, according to news reports.
The flash flood was attributed to the combination of the narrow valley of the Little Missouri River with storms that delivered 7-9 inches (180-230 mm) of rain to the watershed in the middle of the night, when campers were sleeping. Full-size camping vehicles were overturned and massive trucks were swept away by the flood waters, forcing campers to flee to trees and higher ground.
Rainstorm chronology from the Weather Channel
Images of the aftermath, from the Weather Channel
Figure 1. Location map of the Albert Pike Recreation Area in Arkansas.
On June 10, a cluster of severe thunderstorms moved from northeast Texas and arrived in southwest Arkansas in the early morning (Figure 2). These storms brought heavy rains to the areas they passed over (Figure 3).
Figure 2 (top): Animation of the Arkansas storms, June 10-11, 2010. Figure 3 (bottom) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) real-time accumulated rainfall for June 10-11, 2010.
In response to this large amount of rainfall in a very short time, the water level of the Little Missouri River rose rapidly, at times almost 8 feet (2.5 meters) per hour, according to the nearby USGS streamflow gauge (Figure 4). The volume of discharge in the river was so large that it caused a temporary data loss during peak flow (the off-the-chart area in Figure 5).
Figure 4 (top): Gage height data for the Little Missouri River, June 10-11, 2010. Figure 5 (bottom): Discharge data for the Little Missouri River, June 10-11, 2010.
The TRMM Multi-Satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA-RT) data product provides near-real-time rainfall information around the world., allowing examination of the cause of sudden flood events such as this in a timely manner.
The plots and animation were generated by Giovanni-TOVAS
and the Hurricane Data Analysis Tool