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When it rains, it pours: Isaac eases drought, starts floods

September 02, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • Don Duplantier paddles a pirogue from his home as floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac recede in Braithwaite, La.
Don Duplantier paddles a pirogue from his home as floodwaters from Hurricane… (Gerald Herbert / Associated…)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For most of the U.S., Hurricane Isaac has come and gone, and now Southerners and Midwesterners are grappling with the good and bad it left behind.

Evacuation orders eased for parts of Louisiana, and many Missouri residents saw the possible end of a long and painful drought when Isaac passed over the state Friday and Saturday, dumping much of its strength before going on to Illinois and Indiana.

Kansas City cooled off with a long drenching in which some areas reportedly received 7 inches of rain, arriving slowly enough to get sucked up by the parched soil rather than flooding over it.

Between April and August, the area normally gets 22 inches of rain but, until Isaac, had received only 7 this year. With the storm doubling that to 14, some weather watchers hoped the “dire” drought had finally ended here.

“It hasn’t got rid of it totally, let’s put it that way,” Michael July, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in nearby Pleasant Hill, Mo., told the Los Angeles Times. “There will still be drought concerns and drought conditions here, but I expect the impact to be much less than what it had been.”

But July said the storm arrived too late to help beleaguered farmers facing a tragic crop disaster this year.

“The corn has already seeded itself, the ears are already developed; it’s too late for that,” July said. “Soybeans — the pods are already developed. It’s not going to help them out at all; it’s going to be very minimal for them.”

The storm’s rains also missed much of the surrounding region still facing tough drought conditions.

"Certainly, it helped some locations in our far eastern counties in Oklahoma, but there was very little beneficial rain," Pete Snyder, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Tulsa, told CNN.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish, officials were easing back mandatory evacuation orders after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the flood threat to a canal lock along the Pearl River had dropped significantly.

On Saturday, officials had called for the immediate and mandatory evacuation of areas near the Pearl River Diversion Canal between Locks 1 and 2. “Failure of Lock 2 is imminent!” officials said on their website Saturday.

Those fears have subsided, although the Pearl River was expected to crest at 19.5 feet at the Town of Pearl River on Monday as officials continued with their flood-fighting plans.

“As there is still a potential threat, even though reduced, a voluntary evacuation remains in place until the Army Corps of Engineers deems the lock stable and safe,” parish officials said in a statement Sunday.

Through midweek, weather service forecasters said flooding was occurring or imminent throughout the easternmost parts of Louisiana and much of southern Mississippi.

Officials also predicted a strip of possible flooding in eastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana throughout the week.

The remnants of Isaac are expected to dissipate over the Appalachian Mountains around Tuesday.

The National Weather Service's July said officials would meet Thursday to examine the impact of the storm and reevaluate the Midwest's current drought conditions.

matt.pearce@latimes.com

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