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Science behind the historic August flood of 2016 - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Science behind the historic August flood of 2016

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As we commemorate the anniversary of the historic August flood of 2016 here is a brief look back at the science behind the storm that produced the flooding rains here in Acadiana.

According to Meteorologist Rogers Erickson with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles the rains were the result of a low pressure system that wasn't considered a tropical storm or hurricane but that it did have the characteristics of being a tropical wave moving very slowly across South Louisiana for 2 or 3 days. 

Earlier in the week before the system moved over Louisiana the National Hurricane Center was keeping an eye on the wave when it was out over the northern Gulf of Mexico by the Florida panhandle. 

But once the tropical wave moved over land near the Gulf coast of Mississippi the hurricane center noticed the system was beginning to interact with a frontal boundary in the mid latitudes changing the characteristics of the storm.

It was at this point the hurricane center was convinced the wave was no longer entirely tropical in nature and they issued their last advisory for the system. 

So although the storm did not have the necessary circulation or winds to get a name it still had the heavy rains of a tropical system.

And once those rains started over Acadiana they did not stop.

Many locations experienced between 30 to 40 straight hours of steady rain.

When the rain did finally stopped a large portion of south Louisiana was under water.

The 2 day official rainfall total at the Lafayette regional airport was 20.79 inches while the airport just outside New Iberia received 21.51 inches of rain.

However, the worst of the rains fell just to the south of Lafayette were some communities picked up more than 2 feet of rain in 48 hours.

Louisiana's state climatologist Barry Keim says the rain total for Lafayette was greater than a 200 year flood event while New Iberia's total was between a 500 and 1,000 year flood event.

And so with such incredible rainfall totals it unfortunately lead to the widespread historic flooding throughout Acadiana as water entered thousands of homes.

The final thing that caused the flooding to be so bad and take forever to drain throughout the region was the fact that we continued to have a southerly flow for more than a week after the storm pushing water back up the rivers and canals preventing the water from emptying out into the Gulf. 

Keim says the August flood of 2016 is now the biggest 2 day rain event on record for the whole state of Louisiana.
 

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