Here in Southwest Louisiana we experience three main types of flooding. These are: river and bayou flooding, flash flooding, and flooding from hurricane storm surge.
River and bayou flooding is usually the result of heavy local rain and/or heavy rain to our north. If the local rainfall is heavy enough and lasts for several hours or more, river and bayou flooding may occur before the rain stops. This type of flooding will last as long as water continues to flow into the area from the north faster than it flows out. This kind of flooding occurs any time during the year and may require the evacuation of individual houses, neighborhoods or communities.
Flash flooding usually occurs in low-lying areas and places where waters from heavy rainfall can pond. This type of flooding usually occurs when we have five or more inches of rain in less than six hours. If the rainfall ends within six hours, the flood waters will likely recede within a few hours. If rain continues at this heavy rate beyond six hours, the flooding may extend to entire neighborhoods or communities and require evacuation. The major problems with local flash flooding involves stranded vehicles and flooding of homes in areas with poor drainage.
Flooding from hurricane storm surge usually allows time to issue flood warnings many hours in advance. Most hurricanes that make landfall west of Cameron and this side of Galveston will usually cause storm surge flooding in the Lake Charles area. Most hurricanes that produce significant storm surge in the Lake Charles area also require evacuation due to strong winds. On occasion, storms, such as Hurricane Ike in 2008, can cover such a large area of the Gulf of Mexico that they produce storm surge flooding more than 150 miles east of where the storm center makes landfall. Hurricane Ike made landfall about 115 miles west of Lake Charles as a Cat 2 hurricane and still produced a storm surge of almost 10 feet on top of the tide height. At high tide for us, this meant almost 12 feet of water above the normal lake level.