Torrential rain — up to 4 inches an hour — pummels much of Texas

Posted at 11:49 AM, Oct 24, 2015

NAVARRO COUNTY, Texas (CNN) — Drop after drop after drop, the rain keeps coming down in Texas — dangerously raising water levels, not to mention worries that somehow it could get even worse.

That prospect may seem incomprehensible in places like Corsicana, a city located 55 miles south of Dallas deluged by a jaw-dropping 16½ inches of rain Friday alone, the National Weather Service reports. And it hasn’t stopped, with more and more rain continuing to pelt people throughout Saturday morning and a forecast calling for heavy rain into the night.

Even before dawn Saturday, for instance, swift-water rescue teams went to work trying to save two Union Pacific workers from a partially submerged train, the Navarro County emergency management office tweeted.

Then there are all the water-covered roads, the biggest being Interstate 45 that runs from Dallas to Houston. Off and on overnight, authorities shut down up to 30-mile stretches of that highway for hours at a time. Some motorists slept on the side of the road, others needed rescuing — at least four, according to Judge H.M. Davenport of Navarro County — while many crawled (if they were lucky) in miles and miles of related traffic.

And it’s not just Corsicana. Hardly. Much of Texas, along with parts of southern Oklahoma and southwestern Louisiana, were under flash flood warnings and watches through Sunday morning.

The problem isn’t just that the precipitation is persistent, it’s torrential.

To this point, the weather service office in San Antonio, about 235 miles southwest of Corsicana, warned residents that 4 inches of rain per hour could fall there on Saturday morning, and that the San Antonio River was flooding an area around I-410.

At least one person was missing there — floodwater pulled a homeless man into a drainage ditch tunnel early Saturday after he tried to rescue his dog from the ditch, San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Christian Bove said. The dog is OK, but the the man hasn’t been found, Bove said.

As if all this rain isn’t enough — even for a state that’s been dealing with extensive droughts — more could be coming early next week, compliments of Patricia.

Remnants of Patricia could affect U.S.

Once a Category 5 hurricane, Patricia broke up quicklyas it rolled over Mexico late Friday. By 7 a.m. (8 a.m. ET) Saturday, it wasn’t even a hurricane anymore — having become a tropical storm, with expectations that it would “dissipate” by that night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Still, that doesn’t mean Patricia — or the problems it could cause — is going away.

Forecasters are no longer worried, as they once were, that Patricia may reorganize and strengthen as it barrels over Mexico into the Gulf of Mexico, CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray said.

But, even if the winds die down, all the moisture from a huge storm system like this one doesn’t just go away in a flicker. Instead, the remnants of Patricia could feed into the existing storm in the United States.

That other storm system is already huge. Radar shows huge swaths of green, yellow and blue indicating precipitation covering much of Texas on Saturday morning and extending in a line into the Midwest to the northeast, as far up as Ohio.

Houston set to get pummeled next

Whatever Patricia’s eventual impact, Texans already have plenty of headaches right now.

While big chunks of the state were still dealing with drought — from moderate to exceptional, the two highest classifications cited by the U.S. Drought Monitor— there can be too much of a good thing. This is especially true when roads, dams and waterways can’t handle it.

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“All the creeks and rivers upstream here in central Texas, they are filling up,” storm chaser Reed Timmer said from Corsicana. “And there’s a lot more rain on the way.”

On roadways in and around Austin, heavy rains had prompted the closures of 66 low-water crossings around 7:30 a.m. The city, via Twitter, urged people to stay inside while noting that “75% of flash flood deaths in (Texas) happen on the road.”

Camp Mabry, a military installation in the state capital, had 2.63 inches of rain before 8 a.m., by which time it had already smashed the daily record set in 1949.

One city where too little water hasn’t been a problem in Houston. It was among the hardest-hit places last May, when heavy rains and flooding killed at least 15 in Texas, plus at least six in Oklahoma.

This year, much of east Texas and all of northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas and west-central Mississippi have suffered through extreme or exceptional drought, the two highest classifications, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The early morning hours Saturday in Houston were cloudy, but the rain is coming. It should start by afternoon and continue through Monday, dumping 3 to 7 inches — and 8 to 12 inches in some spots — according to the National Weather Service’s Houston/Galveston office.

“If this occurs, flash flooding would be likely,” the agency added. “(There is an) isolated tornado threat, depending upon the … track.”