Saturday evening rains cause flooding

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Some very heavy rain occurred Saturday evening from Picayune eastward into the extreme southeastern part of Pearl River County and western Hancock County. Rain totals in the Ceasar and Salem communities were between four and one-half and five inches. Most of it occurred in less than three hours.

The Picayune Item reported that a section of Old Kiln Road washed out very nearly resulting in a serious accident for a local Hancock County man.

The very localized heavy rain on Saturday was the result of two main factors.

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First, the air was extremely moist throughout most of the lowest several miles of the atmosphere throughout the Deep South. This meant that any thunderstorms that did form would be very efficient rain producers.

Second, the southeastern part of the county found itself at the tail end of an area of showers and thunderstorms that extended to the northeast all the way into Alabama. A phenomenon referred to as “backbuilding” occurred. As the thunderstorm over southeastern Pearl River County moved off to the east a new thunderstorm cell immediately formed and continued the rain over the same area. This went on for almost three hours from 8:00 p.m. until about 11:00 p.m.

Saturday evening’s localized heavy rain event followed heavy rains in the central part of the county on Friday when the areas around Carriere and McNeil received over two and one-half inches.

All this rain led to Hobolochitto Creek being several feet above flood stage in several parts of the county Sunday and Monday.

You can always check the latest stream gauge readings for the West Hobolochitto near McNeil, the East Hobolochitto near Caesar, and the Pearl River at a number of locations by going to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) hydrology website,, and using the map to zoom into our local area.

Warm and humid with scattered to numerous thunderstorms mainly in the afternoon and evening is a good description of our weather since last Friday. And, it’s the most likely description for our weather right on through Memorial Day with Friday and Saturday looking to be the days with the sparsest coverage of thundershowers during the next week.

Our temperatures continue to be seasonable for this time of year as we transition from late spring to early summer. Highs last week were mainly in the middle 80s with lows around 70.

Could we get another cool front through our area before summer settles in for the long-term?
NOAA runs its supercomputer-hosted mathematical-numerical weather model, called the Global Forecast System or GFS, out to a forecast range of 16 days. That model shows a dip in the polar jet stream carving out a deep trough over the eastern United States around the middle of the first week in June. If this were to happen, it would mean a weak, but noticeable cool front for us.

But, don’t get your hopes up yet. The long-range predictions of numerical weather models are not very consistent. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to flip-flop. But, at least at this point it gives those of us who aren’t big fans of south Mississippi summers hope for one last taste of spring.

By Skip Rigney