DALLAS – 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 tornadoes and the death of a boater whose canoe capsized in strong winds.
By the time the slow-moving 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 Friday.
EF-1 tornadoes — the weakest type — touched down Monday and Tuesday morning in a rural area southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, according to weather service meteorologist Juan Hernandez. Damage to homes and businesses was reported in several communities. Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds told Dallas-Fort Worth station KXAS-TV that several mobile homes were damaged and four people were 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 at one point 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.
Bands of torrential rain were moving through northeastern Oklahoma and forecasters said parts of the state's southeast could get up to 7 inches.
The weather service issued a flood advisory for the Illinois River near Tahlequah, in eastern Oklahoma, cautioning that it could rise to 10.9 feet by Friday, which would nearly reach its flood stage of 11 feet.
The Poteau River near the town of Panama, which runs through Arkansas and Oklahoma, could also flood, the weather service said. Flood stage for the river is 29 feet and the rains were expected to cause the river to reach 32.7 feet by Thursday.
Pete Snyder, a weather service meteorologist in Tulsa, said the storm system "is somewhat meandering," and could dump a lot of rain through the rest of the week.
In northwestern Arkansas, heavy rain was expected to begin Tuesday evening and last through early Friday, with up to 8 inches possible west of Little Rock. The service said minor to moderate flooding could occur on the Ouachita, Little Missouri, Fourche LaFave, Petit Jean and Saline rivers.
The system is not related 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.