Heavy rains soak Texas and close schools as downpours continue drenching parts of the US
Jan 24, 2024, 9:50 AM
HOUSTON (AP) — Heavy rains in Texas on Wednesday closed schools and elevated flooding risks around Houston in another round of soaking downpours that have made for a soggy and dangerous week across large portions of the U.S.
A stretch of wet and freezing winter weather has swept away vehicles in San Diego, led to high-water rescues in San Antonio and coated roads with ice in the Midwest. Rain was expected to continue pushing across the Gulf Coast on Thursday and Friday.
In San Antonio, a police vehicle on Wednesday was stuck on a heavily flooded access road to Interstate 35, with moving water reaching almost to the door handles. A police spokesman told KSAT television station that the officer was there to block traffic because of the rising waters, but ended up getting stuck. Police said the officer got safely out of the vehicle.
The morning downpours in Texas canceled classes in rural counties outside Austin, where some areas had received more than 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain within 48 hours. In Fayette County, the rain closed all local government offices and threatened to bring the Colorado River to minor flood stage.
Flood warnings were also in effect around Houston, snarling morning commutes.
Periods of showers and thunderstorms were expected in the area through Thursday morning, and the main concern is that the soil is already quite saturated, said National Weather Service meteorologist Cameron Self. Runoff from swollen rivers will also be a factor, he said.
“It’s just going to be one of those watch the radar kind of evenings and nights to see where those heavier showers and thunderstorms develop,” Self said Wednesday.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week declared a state of emergency for Ventura and San Diego counties, with the latter being hit by heavy rains and high surf that caused flooding. The rain had submerged streets and freeways, halted traffic, buses and trolleys, and caught many people off guard.
In Texas, Lake Conroe, located about 54 miles (90 kilometers) north of Houston, has been temporarily closed because of high lake levels. The San Jacinto River Authority said that after the heavy rainfall, many docks, bulkheads and small islands are submerged and that can be dangerous for boaters.
Residents of a subdivision of about 45 homes in Livingston, located about 70 miles (112 kilometers) miles north of Houston, were told to shelter in place after a road washed out Tuesday evening. By Wednesday afternoon officials had repaired the road enough that it was once again passable for residents, said Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy. The rains had caused severe road damage across the county, officials said.