Two dead as torrential rains, tornadoes lash central Texas

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At Least 2 Dead After Texas Pummeled Again by Heavy Storms.

BUDA, Texas — 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 gridlocked 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. 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. 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.

The body of a driver who went missing in floodwaters was later found in a hard-hit area near the Austin airport, the Travis County Emergency Management Office said. Although not deadly, that drenching left the ground saturated and unable to sop up this latest deluge. “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.

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. 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 town, said one of her employees yelled “Tornado!” and tried to keep the winds from blowing inside before a customer pulled her to safety.

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. 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. 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. 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. Associated Press writers David Warren and Terry Wallace in Dallas, photographer Eric Gay in Floresville and video journalist John Mone in D’Hanis contributed to this report.

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