The U.S. Deep South has been deluged by rain over the past several weeks. These satellite images show the extent of the flooding along the Arkansas River.


These images were captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite. The image on the right was taken on May 14, 2013 under normal conditions. The one on the left was taken a few days ago on May 26, 2015.

NASA’s Earth Observatory describes the extent of the flooding:

The Arkansas River is the second-longest tributary of the Mississippi River, flowing from Colorado down through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. On May 26, the river reached 33.39 feet (10.18 meters) at the Van Buren gauge near Fort Smith. Flood stage at that area is 22 feet; above 31 feet is considered a major flood. Waters appeared to crest in the evening on May 26 and began to subside, but more rain was predicted for the watershed in the final days of May.

Fort Smith, the second largest city in Arkansas, sits along that river and was drenched with 18.33 inches (465.58 millimeters) of rain from May 1–26. The previous May rainfall record was 13.67 inches (347.22 mm); the previous high rainfall for any month was 15.02 inches (381.51 mm) in June 1945.


Four of Arkansas’ five navigable rivers have been closed due to flooding. Both federal and state authorities and working to manage the excess water streaming from lakes and reservoirs, as well as the river flow.

More at NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Email the author at Top image by NASA /Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.

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