LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Thunderstorms swamped much of Arkansas with heavy rains early Monday, swelling streams that forced the state highway department to briefly shut down part of a major interstate linking the eastern United States and the Southwest.
All six lanes of Interstate 30, which provides a direct connection between Memphis, Tenn., and Dallas, were closed for about three hours on the southwest side of Little Rock. High water also blocked service roads and a nearby state highway that often serves as a detour.
Monday's closure was due to flash floods that covered the roadway just near its Alexander Road exit, but the high water forced officials to divert traffic around about a 30-mile stretch based on where the interstate exits are located.
The Arkansas Department of Highways and Transportation suggested a detour that would take drivers onto two-lane roads. Highway department spokesman Randy Ort said drivers between Little Rock and Malvern should take U.S. 270 and U.S. 167 in Sheridan.
The rains, up to 2 inches in central Arkansas, fell in an area that received nearly a half-foot of rain last week, forcing streams up sharply. Rainfall totals exceeded 2.5 inches in portions of the Ouachita Mountains, and the National Weather Service warned that water would rise later Monday along the Ouachita River near Malvern, Donaldson and Friendship along I-30.
More heavy rain was predicted for Monday night and Tuesday.
River flooding in eastern Arkansas in the spring shut down portions of Interstate 40 for a week.