Weather Related Closings

Tropical Storm Bill Strikes Texas, Might Bring Flooding Rains

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Still reeling from record rainfall in May, Texas is back in the bull's-eye as Tropical Storm Bill closes in on the Texas Gulf coast Tuesday morning, June 16, 2015. Wind gusts will top 50 mph, but it's the rain that has authorities worried. The storm is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches in eastern Texas and up to 12 inches in isolated areas.

Still reeling from record rainfall in May, Texas is back in the bull’s-eye as Tropical Storm Bill closes in on the Texas Gulf coast Tuesday morning, June 16, 2015. Wind gusts will top 50 mph, but it’s the rain that has authorities worried. The storm is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches in eastern Texas and up to 12 inches in isolated areas.

Tropical Storm Bill came ashore on the Texas Gulf Coast at midday Tuesday, bringing more rain to a region recovering from deadly floods.

The storm system is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches in eastern Texas and Oklahoma, with up to 12 inches in isolated spots in Texas. Western Louisiana and Arkansas are expected to see up to 4 inches of rain.

The National Weather Service reported at 2 p.m. ET that the storm still had 60 mph winds but was forecast to weaken to a tropical depression overnight.

Bill made landfall at 12:45 p.m. ET Tuesday just south-southwest of Port O’Connor on Matagorda Island, CNN affiliate KTRK reported.

The rain is bad news for a state recovering from last month’s record-setting rains and flooding.

“While high winds and even tornadoes are possible, already wet grounds mean that even a moderate amount of rain will likely cause street flooding,” warned Harris County Emergency Management. “Bayous and rivers could go out of banks quickly, creating a serious threat to life and property.”

Flash flood watches are posted from Central Texas to Oklahoma, eastward through parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois over the next three days, CNN’s weather team reported.

“This is a rain event,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on CNN’s “New Day.” “People need to be aware that places that have flooded before are likely to flood again.”

Harris County is home to Houston, the state’s most populous city.

In neighboring Galveston County, authorities issued a voluntary evacuation for the Bolivar Peninsula, which sits in Galveston Bay. Potential rainfall could flood roads on the peninsula, making it harder to leave later or for emergency responders to reach the area.

Residents stocked up

On Tuesday, street flooding was a problem on Galveston Island, reported CNN affiliate KTRK. No serious injuries or property damage were reported except when the roof collapsed on a bank drive-through in southeast Harris County, KTRK reported.

Residents had already rushed to grocery and hardware stores, clearing the shelves of bottled water, batteries and booze.

“We bought the essentials for the storm,” a Sam’s Club shopper told CNN affiliate KTRK. “We got water, liquor and beer.”

People in Central Texas worry the storm may bring another round of deadly flooding. In Wimberly, floods along the Blanco River killed at least nine people and destroyed dozens of homes.

“Everyone’s a little gun-shy,” Lisa Kiefer told CNN affiliate KXAN. “Three weeks ago, after the flood, helicopters were in town for days, and the Red Cross trucks … you just couldn’t get away from the fact the community was so damaged.”

Flights affected

Air travel was affected at Houston airports

According to flightaware.com, 8% of flights from Bush Intercontinental Airport were canceled and 18% were delayed Tuesday, while 13% of flights from William P. Hobby Airport were canceled and 7% were delayed. The website doesn’t say how many cancellations or delays were caused by weather.

Dozens of school systems along the coast called off classes for Tuesday, including the Houston and Galveston Independent School Districts.

Preparations

Texas put its special operations center on alert ahead of the storm’s landfall.

“Any additional rainfall will exacerbate already saturated grounds, which could quickly lead to dangerous flash flooding and extended river flooding,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.

Along the Gulf, the U.S. Coast Guard mobilized, too.

“We got all of our helicopters, aircraft and boats in ready status,” Lt. Eric Vryheid, a U.S. Coast Guard pilot, told affiliate KRIS.

“We’re taking the storm seriously,” said Vryheid. “We urge that the community takes it seriously as well. We don’t want anyone getting caught in an unsafe situation.”

Bill should weaken quickly over land. It will linger in the region through Wednesday.

The state has barely recovered from May’s record-setting rainfall.

Torrential rains dumped 37.3 trillion gallons of water on the state during the month, enough to cover the entire state with 8 inches of water, according to the National Weather Service.

Last month’s storms killed at least 43 people in the United States and Mexico.

CNN’s Mariano Castillo and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.