Severe weather, flooding cripples parts of Texas; at least 2 dead

Parts of Texas, pounded by heavy rain and high winds over the last several days, can expect more of the same Saturday.

Severe weather in south-central Texas left two people dead Friday — a male driver in Austin and another motorist whose car washed away at Camp Bullis, part of Joint Base San Antonio.

Authorities in Travis County are also searching for an elderly woman swept from her home Friday.

Two people may have died due to the severe weather in Houston. The city’s Office of Emergency Management said the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences is investigating and will release details once the cause of deaths is confirmed.

Austin smashed an all-time 24-hour rainfall record Friday with 14.54 inches, according to the National Weather Service. The old record was 8.70 inches, set on November 23, 1974.

The weather service said thunderstorms across southeast Texas on Saturday will be capable of producing heavy rain. Flash flooding is possible, and flood warnings remain in effect for parts of Houston and Galveston.

Forecasters said isolated tornadoes are the primary threat. The rain is expected to end as the day progresses.

Travis County Emergency Services said 10 swift-water rescue operations were conducted overnight in central Texas.

Heavy rains flooded multiple roadways, including Interstate 35, in the Dallas area, according to a Dallas Police Department tweet.

Houston flooding

Fire officials conducted more than 90 water rescues overnight in the Houston area. The flooding shut down parts of state Highway 288, according to Michael Walter, spokesman for the Houston Office of Emergency Management.

“Our main concern is high water,” Walter said. “Highway 288 from downtown to the South Loop is closed, and we are looking at potentially closing I-20 from downtown to the West Loop and from I-10 to the Astrodome area.”

The 911 center has received more than 350 calls for help.

Walter said a tornado may have gone through the neighborhood around the Johnson Space Center, but the center’s emergency line is not reporting any damage on site.

“We have unconfirmed reports of power flashes and possible wind damage in Clear Lake near Ellington Field where the Johnson Space Center is,” Walter said. “Power flashes occurred when high winds hit a transformer, which usually indicate a tornado coming through that area.”

The city of Houston asked residents to avoid travel due to significant rainfall that prompted the flash flooding. Residents were asked to plan extra time and not to drive through areas of high water.

Elementary school flooded

Video from CNN affiliate KABB-TV in San Antonio showed a San Marcos elementary school surrounded by water. Students at Travis Elementary were evacuated with the help of a SWAT team that drove its heavily armored vehicle through the floodwaters.

The airfield of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport briefly closed due to weather, the airport tweeted from its official account.

Nearly 6 inches of rain fell within an hour at the airport, the National Weather Service said, flooding the ground floor of the Austin Air Traffic Control Tower and Terminal Radar Approach Control facility.

Elsewhere in Texas, some areas received more than 10 inches of rain, according to an alert from the National Weather Service.

CNN contributor Omar Gallaga posted video of rough road conditions in New Braunfels, showing parts of the Texas Ski Ranch under water.

Storm system slowly moving out of Texas

The strong storm system that brought the widespread flash flooding to Texas is slowly moving into Louisiana and Mississippi. National forecasters said flash flood watches are up for most of the region and a tornado watch is in effect for portions of southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi until 7 p.m. CT Saturday.

“The threat for tornadoes is very low,” CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said. “The primary concern across the area will be flash flooding due to slow-moving thunderstorms.”

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