Major storm wreaks havoc across US, life-threating flood ongoing in Houston

Major storm wreaks havoc across US, life-threating flood ongoing in Houston

A major storm has ravaged parts of the US in the period between April 15 and 17, 2016. Heavy snowfall and flash floods wreaked havoc across the affected areas, causing large traffic disruptions, power outages and evacuations.

More than 0.3 m (1 feet) of snowfall was reported across high areas of Colorado, and lower levels at Denver International Airport over the last couple of days. A total of 128.5 cm (50.6 inches) was measured near Pinecliffe. 

17.8 cm (7 inches) of snow was reported at the National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Bellmont, Arizona on April 18 while 128.5 cm (50.6 inches) was measured near Pinecliffe, 116.8 cm (46 inches) near St. Mary's Glacier, and 30.7 cm (12.1 inches) at Denver Int'l Airport in Colorado.

Video credit: NBC News

(48.3 cm) 19 inches was observed west of Bynum, 17.5 cm (6.9 inches) at Great Falls in Montana while 29.2 cm (11.5 inches) blanketed area near Questa in New Mexico, and (15.2 cm) 6 inches was reported at Kenmare in North Dakota. At the same time, 17.8 cm (7 inches) was recorded at Buckboard Flat in Utah, 83.8 cm (33 inches) near Encampment and 38.1 cm (15 inches) near Casper in Wyoming.

Parts of Interstate 80 in southeast Wyoming were closed on the morning of April 17, and severe weather conditions caused the Interstate 70 to the west of Denver to shut down from April 15 to 17. At least 47 000 homes reported power loss while the storm swept Colorado. Northern Arizona also reported heavy snowfall on the morning of April 16 (local time).

Heavy rainfall triggered major flash floods in the Houston area in the early hours of April 18 (local time), as about 25.4 cm (10 inches)  fell in only six hours and inundated the region. Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District warned of a "life-threatening" situation in northwest Harris County. Additional amount between 30.5 and 40.6 cm (12 and 16 inches) of precipitation has been expected in the region before the daybreak.

Video credit: NBC News

A daily rainfall record was broken at the Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport, as 22.5 cm (8.85 inches) was recorded by 5:20 am (local time), the NWS reported. All incoming and outgoing flight traffic was canceled.

"This is a dangerous situation and I do not want our employees trying to get to work. Do not go out until conditions improve," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. He closed all city buildings and canceled the State of the City address set for Monday. The Houston Independent School District was also closed on April 18.

15 people, caught in the flash floods were rescued by the Houston Fire Department in the early morning on April 18, and another 6 people were rescued from the cars captured by the water in Waller, the county's emergency management office reported.

Residents were repeatedly warned that getting caught by the deep and fast-moving flood water will cause almost certain death and were advised to stay home wherever possible.

According to the weather forecast, heavy rainfall and strong thunderstorms will continue to threaten areas from eastern Texas to the Dakotas. Scattered thunderstorms could still develop in southern Texas until the end of the day and bring damaging wind gusts, hail and isolated tornadoes.

Snow is expected to continue in the higher elevations of Colorado and northern New Mexico, parts of Wyoming, eastern Utah and extreme southern Montana throughout the day. On April 19, the snow may still linger in the higher areas of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Featured image credit: NBC News

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