Scientists Say Expect More 1,000-Year Events Like Louisiana Flood
Louisiana's devastating rainfall was the state's second "1,000-year" flood this year
Parts of Louisiana's disastrous, ongoing flooding has been upgraded by meteorologists to once-in-1,000-years rainfall, with other areas classified as 500-year and 100-year events, nola.com reported Monday, as scientists warn that such storms are growing more and more frequent as the planet heats up.
"On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is set to classify the Louisiana disaster as the eighth flood considered to be a once-in-every-500-years event to have taken place in the U.S. in little over 12 months," the Guardian reports:
Since May of last year, dozens of people have been killed and thousands of homes have been swamped with water in extreme events in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland. NOAA considers these floods extreme because, based on historical rainfall records, they should be expected to occur only once every 500 years.
The Louisiana flooding has been so exceptional that some places in the state experienced storm conditions considered once-every-1,000-year events. Close to 2ft of rain fell over a 48-hour period in parts of southern Louisiana, causing residents to scramble to safety from flooded homes and cars.
And nola.com reported that the flooding "was triggered by a complicated, slow-moving low-pressure weather system that dumped as much as two feet of rain on parts of East Baton Rouge, Livingston and St. Helena parishes in 48 hours."
"The record two-day rainfall in those areas had a 0.1 percent chance of occurring in any year, the equivalent of a '1,000-year rain,' according to the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, based at the Slidell office of the National Weather Service," the local outlet wrote.
The ongoing flooding is the second "1,000-year" rain to strike the state this year. Noted environmentalist Bill McKibben tweeted about such disasters' rapidly increasing frequency:
Louisiana's 2nd 1000-year floods this year. So I guess it's safe till 2216! (That's how it works, right?) https://t.co/8YvxOn9wbg— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) August 16, 2016
The flooding has caused the death of eight people and affected 40,000 homes and businesses, according to the Associated Press.
The floods have indeed been devastating, with many last-minute evacuations forcing residents to leave their houses with nothing. And although both the federal and state governments have now declared states of emergency, in many areas people have been forced to take search-and-rescue efforts into their own hands, the Guardian writes:
The scale of the flooding was beyond the reach of any government agency, though. So from the bayous and swamps emerged something locals are calling the "Cajun navy." Thousands of hunters and fishermen from throughout the region arrived in boats and organized themselves into search-and-rescue parties.
Brittany Cuccia, a college student from Thibodeaux, joined one 10-boat fleet Monday as it moved from house to underwater house. "I'd say we've pulled out 50 people at least," she said.
Residents who needed help were stuck in homes with no power, she said. They had no way to call for help, and so they retreated higher and higher into their homes, praying for rescue.
And with even some coffins being uprooted and photographed eerily floating down residential streets, at least one local described the disaster as "worse than Hurricane Katrina."