Texas Deluged by Rain in Patricia's Wake, Flash Floods Hit Houston
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Heavy rains fueled by the meeting of two storm systems, one the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, pounded southeastern Texas, triggering flash floods and derailing a freight train as the heavy weather descended upon Houston early Sunday.
The National Weather Service predicted 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) of rain for coastal areas, including southwest Louisiana, by Monday morning, exacerbated by tides up to five feet (1.5 meter) and wind gusts up to 35 mph.
The rain systems were intensified by Patricia, which was downgraded to a tropical depression after crashing into Mexico's west coast as a powerful hurricane.
As the storms moved eastward early Sunday, cities in the state's flood-prone Gulf of Mexico region braced for the impact. They include Houston, the state's second-most populous metropolitan area with 6.1 million people.
Mayor Annise Parker warned residents to stay away from wet roads after dark and be aware of flash floods, which the National Weather Service said were occurring in the city early Sunday. No one was reported hurt, but several motorists were stranded.
Flash flood warnings were in place until 4 am Central Daylight time for eight southeastern Texas counties. Among them are Harris County, which includes Houston, and Galveston County. Some areas could get more than a foot of additional rain, Reuters reported.
Officials urged vigilance, reminding residents of deadly past flooding. A series of storms in May triggered floods and led to 21 deaths.
"Some people lost their lives in high-water incidents," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, whose county includes Houston. "We're going to get a lot of rain tonight and it's going to result in some high-water situations, so for heaven's sake be careful."
In Galveston, authorities urged voluntary evacuation of the elderly and residents with medical issues on the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston Bay. The storms could hinder transportation to and from the peninsula. Power outages are also possible as a result of gale force winds, authorities said.
Navarro County, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Dallas, was one of the hardest-hit areas. The tiny town of Powell got 20 inches (50 cm) of rain over 30 hours, according to meteorologist Brett Rathbun of Accuweather.
A flash flood swept a Union Pacific freight train off the tracks, pushing locomotives and some rail cars on their sides. No injuries were reported.
Authorities requested sandbags for evacuated homes and Interstate 45 was shut down in some spots in Navarro by rising water, which reached one foot on the roadway in Richland.
Some 80 water rescues from vehicles, homes and businesses had been carried out in Navarro County since Friday, Sheriff Elmer Tanner said.
Saturday's rainfall led to the cancellation of about 100 flights at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, one of the country's busiest air hubs, according to tracking service FlightAware.
Retailers reported that locals made a run on supplies in anticipation of floods.