Rain and ice batter central U.S. as Texas death toll rises to four

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 28, 2015 2:55 PM

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Flooding and travel delays are likely over the holiday weekend for a swath of south and central United States stretching from Texas to Kentucky, bringing up to a foot of rain in some places and killing at least four, weather forecasters said Saturday.

At the same time, an ice storm stretching from New Mexico through West Texas and Oklahoma and up to Kansas City knocked out power for tens of thousands of residents by Saturday morning. The system is expected to lead to airport delays across the central and north part of the United States, according to Accuweather.com.

A double hit of moisture from Tropical Storm Sandra and the Gulf of Mexico combine brought record-breaking rains and flooding to the Dallas-Fort Worth region over the Thanksgiving holiday. The deluge led to the deaths of four motorists in the area, including a woman missing since Thursday and presumed dead, authorities said.

More downpours are expected Saturday night and Sunday in North Texas, which is especially vulnerable to flooding after an already wet season. That has prompted concerns about drivers heading home after Thanksgiving on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

This is the wettest year on record in Dallas, which had seen 57.56 inches of rain in 2015 by Saturday morning, according to Accuweather.com.

Flash flood watches are in effect for North Texas and parts of Arkansas and Missouri, while winter advisories and ice storm warnings were in effect in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists blamed the weather in part on moisture from Tropical Storm Sandra off the western coast of Mexico.

"Sandra's moisture will stream far enough to the north in the United States to contribute to an extensive period of ice in the southern High Plains and the risk for flooding elsewhere in the South Central states," wrote Accuweather.com senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski on Saturday.

On Saturday in North Texas, teams were still unable to reach a car that was washed into a creek early on Thanksgiving with a woman in her 70s trapped inside, said Fort Worth firefighter Kyle Clay. The woman is presumed dead but recovery efforts are impossible due to the conditions, Clay said.

"I feel really bad for the family," he said. "I know they're waiting for us to go in there, but you can't put a diver in the water in those conditions."

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Nick Zieminski)