Man dies as powerful storms, possible tornadoes pound Texas

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Heavy Texas Storms Force Water Rescues, Halt Flights.

BUDA, Texas (1080 KRLD/AP) — Punishing storms and suspected tornadoes Friday socked an already sodden swath of Texas that was still drying out from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, forcing evacuations and shutting down a busy 10-mile stretch of interstate.AUSTIN — A man swept away in Friday morning’s heavy thunderstorms that pounded a large swath of central Texas later was found drowned in southeast Travis County, authorities said. Three suspected tornadoes also were reported in the area from San Antonio to Bastrop County, causing water rescues, street flooding and damage, according to the Weather Channel and the National Weather Service. Torrential rains over Memorial Day weekend inundated the Blanco and raging river waters tore at least one home from its foundation, killing members of two families inside.

Listen: More than 16 inches of rain soaked one neighborhood and Austin Bergstrom International Airport suspended all flights after a half-foot of water flooded the air traffic control tower. A lazy creek cutting through Texas wine country swelled into a rushing torrent, sending eight members of a vacationing church group scrambling to a second floor and awaiting rescue from the National Guard. There were no fatalities reported from Friday’s storm as emergency personnel across Central and South Texas rushed to close roadways overwhelmed by water and respond to high-water rescues. Abandoned cars, many submerged in water, littered backroads that weary drivers risked after heavy downpours flooded Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin, closing one of the busiest stretch of roadways in the U.S.

Along with the report of the confirmed tornado, the weather service said that extensive damage to Floresville High School could have been caused by a tornado, KENS-TV, San Antonio reported. Last weekend, storms from Patricia’s Category 5 aftermath dumped nearly a foot of rain in parts of the same region. “The flooding was so much,” said Kathleen Haney, who was part of the Dallas church group rescued from a bed-and-breakfast in Wimberley. “It just kept coming up and coming up.” Near San Antonio, four students with special needs and two adults were rescued from a school bus caught in floodwaters that reached the top of the tires. Similar conditions in May — soaking storms on the heels of other soaking storms — caused devastating flooding on the Blanco River that swept homes from foundations and killed families that were carried downstream. Ruth Veliz, whose parents own a taco shop in Floresville, said about a dozen customers and employees were there at 6 a.m. when the suspected tornado hit.

Those in the restaurant took shelter anywhere they could find it, including under tables, she said. “We were all caught off guard, everyone just grabbed on to what they could get their hands on,” she said. Flooding caused Interstate 35 to close between Austin and San Antonio, with motorists in southbound lanes being forced to turn around and drive on the shoulder against traffic to escape the area. A warm front across south central Texas along with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and a disturbance from the west sparked the severe weather, Treadway said.

The flooded portion of Interstate 35 was reopened later Friday, but not before southbound drivers turned against traffic and tried driving north along the shoulder. Gregg Waller, a hydrologist with the weather service’s West Gulf River Forecast Center in Fort Worth, said the region’s damp soil, topography and weather conditions made it prime for potential flooding. Nadia Tamez-Robledo lives near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, which grounded flights Friday, and said winds blew down her fence as the storm also brought thunder and lightning. “I’m very new to the Austin area so I don’t know anything about flash flooding,” she said. “I’ve never had to deal with it.

Winds peeled off roofs elsewhere and collapsed a historic 19th-century building in the small town of D’Hanis, one of three cities where suspected tornadoes touched down.

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