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Major flooding around North Shore, Baton Rouge area

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Major flooding was occurring in the region surrounding Baton Rouge, in the River Parishes. and on the North Shore and in adjacent Mississippi counties on Friday morning (Aug. 12), with emergency officials conducting search and rescue operations in several locations. The record-setting rainfall causing it is expected to continue until at least Saturday morning, according to the Slidell office of the National Weather Service.

A flash flood warning remains in effect until 1 p.m. Friday for that region, with another 2 to 5 inches possible. And a morning forecast warns that the bulk of the thunderstorms could move south and west toward the New Orleans metropolitan area in the late morning and early afternoon. A flash flood watch remains in effect for southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi until Saturday morning.

And forecasters also issued a flood advisory for the south shore, River Parishes and Mississippi coast until noon for urban and small stream flooding, as 1 to 2 inches of rain have already fallen on Friday morning and another 1 to 3 inches are expected.

Updates on storm warnings and weather information will be added to this post as they occur, in the comments below.

Rainfall totals throughout the area skyrocketed overnight to "legacy" totals, setting local records, especially in the Baton Rouge area and in nearby Mississippi counties, forecasters said. Radar indicated 10.55 inches overnight in Livingston, in Livingston Parish; 9.97 inches in Gloster, Miss.; 8.4 inches over most of St. Helena Parish; more than 7 inches from Osyka, Miss. to Kentwood; 7 inches from Roseland to Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, and 7 inches from Greenwell Springs to Watson in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Segments of Interstates 10 and 55 and dozens of state highways and local streets were under water, and emergency officials were reporting search and rescue missions and flooded homes and other buildings throughout the region. Schools are closed in many locations.

In St. Helena Parish, emergency managers reported at 6:13 a.m. that high water had cut off the city of Greensburg, with many roads closed, parish hospital and a nursing home beginning to flood and widespread power outages occurring.

Tangipahoa Parish has declared a state of emergency because of the flooding. At 6:13 a.m. Tangipahoa emergency management was reporting that several search and rescue operations were underway in the Roseland area, and that 30 roads were underwater, including U.S. 51 and Interstate 10.

In Livingston Parish, emergency officials reported houses flooded in the Watson area. In Amite County, Miss, a section of Perry Road in Gloster had washed away. In East Feliciana Parish, La. 957 was impassible due to flooding and debris about 4 miles northeast of Slaughter.

At 6:47 a.m. Wilkinson County, Miss. emergency managers reported they had to rescue individuals from a vehicle in high water, and several other water rescues were occuring in Centreville, where many roads were flooded. Water also was entering homes in the Ballack community.

And in Osyka, Miss. emergency officials reported that the city was cut off due to flooding and evacuations were being ordered, with water in a number of homes, and many roads under water, including Interstate 55.

The unprecedented rainfall totals are resulting in rapidly rising rivers on the North Shore. On the Tickfaw River at Liverpool, the stage was 13.33 feet at 7:30 a.m. a new record, and the river was still rising.

Forecasters blame the heavy rain on a complex combination of weak surface and mid-level troughs of low pressure, with high pressure above it helping to push air through the system, providing energy to create continuous thunderstorms, all atop the southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi region, according to a morning forecast discussion message.

Add record-breaking levels of moisture in the air, forecasters say, that are as much or greater than seen during tropical storms and hurricanes, and the result is an extremely efficient rain producer.

Two-inch per hour rainfall rates are possible in the more intense thunderstorms, with some producing even higher rainfall rates for short periods. And the individual thunderstorms are moving very slowly, often repeat storms over the same locations, they said.