DALLAS – Heavy rains that brought a flood threat to North and Central Texas will spread into South Texas on Sunday as a stalled cold front causing the downpours is reinforced by remnants of Hurricane Patricia.
Much of the Texas heartland was under a flash flood watch early Saturday as the National Weather Service expected the Austin-San Antonio area to receive up to a foot of rain while already inundated sections of North Texas were expected to experience up to 7 more inches of rain.
Flash floods already have closed major highways in parts of North Texas. Floodwaters from more than 13 inches of rain closed Interstate 45 near Corsicana, backing up traffic for 12 miles, and closed parts of heavily traveled Interstate 35 near Waco.
Texas was contending with multiple storm systems, prompting emergency officials to gear up for heavy rains through the weekend and widespread flooding that may follow.
The rains already have scrambled the schedule of high school and college football games, forcing postponement of some games and rescheduling of others for earlier in the day.
But for emergency officials, a primary concern is the widespread flooding expected over the weekend. Officials in Hidalgo County planned to hand out free sandbags to help residents prepare for the expected deluge. Heavy rains, gusty winds and tidal rises of up to 5 feet prompted a coastal flood advisory for the upper Texas Gulf Coast.
The potential for flooding comes five months after torrential spring storms caused more than 30 deaths and left large swaths of the state underwater.
The Memorial Day weekend brought an astonishing amount of rainfall, with some isolated areas receiving more than 20 inches. Homes were either damaged or swept away by river water southwest of Austin, about 1,500 homes in the Houston area alone sustained flood damage, and neighborhoods throughout the state were cut off by rising waters.
Little rain had fallen since then.
More than half of the state's 254 counties had outdoor burn bans in effect Friday, due to previous dry conditions, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported.