DALLAS (AP) – Powerful storms dumped heavy rain on parts of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma on Tuesday, causing flooding that led to a school bus rescue, property damage from suspected tornadoes and the death of a boater whose canoe capsized in strong winds.
By the time the storm system leaves Texas and Oklahoma – likely Wednesday – it could dump up to a foot of rain on some areas, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer McNatt. It could linger in Arkansas and Louisiana through Thursday.
Storm damage was reported in rural communities southwest of Fort Worth, but McNatt said survey teams hadn’t confirmed as of Tuesday morning whether it was caused by tornadoes or straight-line winds. Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds told KXAS-TV Channel 5 that four mobile homes were damaged and four people injured overnight.
Authorities near Houston said they’ve recovered the body of a 22-year-old man whose canoe capsized as he and another man were fishing in a bayou near Galveston Bay.
Dallas-based utility Oncor reported more than 40,000 customers without power Tuesday as strong winds brought down trees and traffic lights. Winds of up to 70 mph were reported and tornado warnings were issued for parts of central and eastern Texas.
Emergency personnel waded through thigh-deep water to rescue six children from a school bus caught on a flooded road north of Fort Worth.
McNatt said that in addition to flash flooding, there’s widespread river flooding, but the damage isn’t expected to be extensive.
“We’ve had a relatively dry January and February, so the lakes aren’t full and the rivers aren’t as full, either,” she said.
The slow-moving system is unrelated to one that brought powerful thunderstorms to much of California on Monday, walloping the Sierra Nevada with blizzard conditions and briefly knocking out power at the Los Angeles airport.
The rain could help alleviate California’s prolonged drought. As much as 20 inches was expected this week in some parts of Northern California amid a deepening snowpack that provides water to the state when it melts in the spring.
The storms arrived as the ocean-warming phenomenon called El Nino persists in the Pacific.