Tropical Depression Bill drenched large parts of Texas on Wednesday, turning streets into lakes, raising flood worries and killing at least one person in the state where severe weather killed about 30 people last month.
Bill, the second named tropical storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, was forecast to bring 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) of rain in an area stretching from Texas toward Indiana, with a few places seeing as much as 12 inches (30 cm), the National Weather Service said.
It was downgraded from a tropical storm on Wednesday as it lost strength. The storm first came ashore on Tuesday and has taken a northeastern path into northern Texas and Oklahoma.
The heavy rains could cause rivers already swollen by torrential rains in late May to spill over their banks again.
“This event is not over,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at a news conference. “There will be a lot of rainfall that will still come. There could be some potential tornadoes.”
A 62-year-old woman died on Wednesday when she lost control of her car on a rain-soaked highway near the central town of West, a state trooper said.
The heavy rains shut roads and snarled transportation in the Houston and Dallas areas, two of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.
Nearly 500 flights had been canceled at Dallas and Houston airports, some of the nation’s busiest, as of 4:30 p.m. CDT, tracking service FlightAware.com said.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for an area from the Texas coast into Illinois, affecting more than 20 million people.
“It’s not fun taking your dogs out to pee during a tropical storm,” said Dallas resident Christal Neumann. “I had to coax them out the door with an umbrella.”
In Sealy, about 50 miles (80 km) west of Houston, police rescued people caught in rising water.
Voluntary evacuations were called for some flood-prone areas south of Houston.
Oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico and near the coast were not impacted by the storm. Refineries and a nuclear power plant, the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station in Bay City, also operated normally.
More than 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity and half of natural gas processing capacity sits along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
SOURCE: Reuters, Jon Herskovitz