Official reports today say at least 19 people were killed after days of relentless rain caused widespread flooding in Texas and Oklahoma. Authorities expect the death toll to rise, as 11 people are still missing. Record breaking rainfall ended 5 years of extreme drought in both states and caused massive flooding and widespread devastation along the way.
Texas and Oklahoma were under extreme drought conditions for the past five years. "That left the soil 'like concrete,' which typically exacerbates flooding conditions, Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, said.
NBC describes central Texas as a "scene of utter devastation, a natural disaster of epic proportions, after days of relentless and historic rain triggered raging floods. The rivers there are swelling to at least 45 feet [1 371 cm], rushing over its banks, demolishing homes and businesses.
Right now [Tuesday night local time on May 26] there are entire neighborhoods under a feet [30 cm] of mud and water including Wimberley, now called the epicenter of this disaster."
Crews will resume searches Wednesday, May 27 for the 11 people who have now been missing for three days in the small tourist town of Wimberley, where the usually calm Blanco River swelled to an ocean-like squall that crested three times above flood stage, AP reports.
Houston Intercontinental Airport measured a record breaking 4.34 inches (110.2 mm) of rain on Monday, May 25, which is almost double their previous all-time 24-hr rainfall record set in 1946. On the same day, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster across 24 counties.
By Tuesday, May 26, the floodwaters affected virtually every part of Houston (population 2.1 million) and paralyzed some areas after roads turned to rivers.
Firefighters carried out more than 500 water rescues, most involving stranded motorists. At least 2 500 vehicles were abandoned by drivers seeking higher ground, officials said.
US President Barack Obama promised federal support for damages from the storm. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the deadly flooding this week has been the worst the state has ever seen and has declared 37 counties "catastrophe areas".
"You cannot candy-coat it. It's absolutely massive," Abbott said.
TVNweather brings us this extreme up-close tornado video ripping trees apart near Lone Camp, Texas (May 26).
The severe weather threat continues on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 across portions of the central and southern Plains. Large hail and damaging winds will be the primary risks, however tornadoes cannot be ruled out.
Severe weather will also be possible across portions of the Northeast where damaging winds are the primary threat, NWS said.
Featured image: Hwy 288 turned river by Jill Barlow (via Twitter)