Heavy rain and widespread power outages hit southeast Texas, Louisiana

Rainfall and flooding for 5-10-19 - 5-11-19 National Weather Service

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – Hailstones the size of golf balls accompanied by as much as four inches of rain pelted the U.S. Gulf coast from Texas to Louisiana, flooding highways, downing power lines and closing some schools, officials said.

About 150,000 homes and businesses in Texas were without electricity early Friday and another 15,000 customers were in the dark in Louisiana, local power companies said.

“Most of this storm developed right over Houston Thursday evening,” said Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“Some of the rainfall was outlandishly fast,” Burke said. “Several of our reliable rain-spotters reported seeing multiple inches of rain in under an hour. That much water in a short time just accelerates the amount of damage that can happen.”

There were no confirmed reports of tornadoes overnight, but the rain comes atop several days of heavy precipitation. Some southeastern Texas communities received a total of 10 inches of rain since Tuesday, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

Houston’s 209,000 public school students got the day off as the city’s Independent School District, the state’s largest school system, said it was shutting down its 280 campuses on Friday because of inclement weather.

Police did not have an assessment of damage or injuries early Friday, but the Houston Chronicle reported that parts of the U.S. Interstate 10 highway in the city was closed late Thursday in east Houston, stranding at least 40 motorists.

The Houston Fire Department rescued two people from a submerged car that flipped into a rain-filled ditch late Thursday, the Chronicle and other media reported.

Burke said the worst of the storm had pushed off eastward early Friday.

“The only good news is that the storm didn’t linger,” he said. “But Louisiana, Mississippi, western Alabama and southern Tennessee are all under the gun today.”

Flash flood warnings and flood watches were in effect from east Texas to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Danger persists from additional flooding along the southern Mississippi River and its tributaries, officials said.

More rain is in the forecast for the area this weekend, Burke said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Peter Graff and Steve Orlofsky)

Flights canceled as Taiwan battens down for powerful typhoon

A wave breaks on the waterfront next to an excavator, as super typhoon Maria approaches, in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, China, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

By Jess Macy Yu

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan braced for Typhoon Maria on Tuesday, prompting school closures and the cancellations of hundreds of flights amid warnings of landslides and floods on the island.

Maria was expected to approach the northern coast early on Wednesday as it moves in a west-northwesterly direction at 30 kph (19 mph), weather officials said.

Vegetables are sold out at a supermarket, as residents brace themselves for super typhoon Maria in Keelung near Taipei, Taiwan , July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Eason Lam

Vegetables are sold out at a supermarket, as residents brace themselves for super typhoon Maria in Keelung near Taipei, Taiwan , July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Eason Lam

At one point a super typhoon, Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau has downgraded Maria to a medium-strength storm with wind gusts of up to 209 km per hour (129 mph).

Local governments in most part of northern Taiwan plan to close offices and schools on Wednesday, but financial markets will remain open, authorities announced late on Tuesday.

Troops were deployed in some areas amid fears of landslides and fishermen in the northern city of Keelung tried to protect boats from the storm.

China Airlines and Eva Airways, Taiwan’s two largest carriers, canceled many flights and warned more could be delayed because of the typhoon.

 

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, said more than a dozen flights had been canceled.

Taiwan is frequently hit by typhoons during the summer, and stepped up preparations to guard against them after Typhoon Morakot devastated the island in 2009. It killed nearly 700 people, most of them in landslides.

(Reporting by Jess Macy Yu in Taipei and Yimou Lee in Yilan; Additional reporting by Trista Shi and Maggie Liu in HONG KONG; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Commuters in U.S. South face tough trek after deadly storm

Snow cover in the U.S. 1-18-18 - National Weather Service

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Commuters in the U.S. South faced frigid temperatures and dangerously slick roads on Thursday after a winter storm, responsible for at least eight deaths, thrashed the region with heavy snow and winds that snapped power lines.

Schools in New Orleans, Charlotte and Atlanta and across the region canceled classes on Thursday as winter weather advisories from the National Weather Service (NWS) remained in effect from eastern Texas to Florida and north into southeast Virginia.

“Motorists are urged to use extreme caution, or avoid travel if possible,” the NWS said in an advisory, warning that freezing temperatures would keep roads icy.

Wind chill advisories were in effect as temperatures will feel like they have fallen below zero Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) in parts of the Carolinas, Alabama and Virginia.

More than 14,000 households and businesses in North Carolina and Louisiana and in various parts of the South were without power early on Thursday, utility companies said online.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency because of severe conditions that made traveling treacherous.

“We cannot stress it enough for everyone to stay off the roads unless you have no choice,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement, adding the storm had caused 1,600 traffic accidents.

More than 9 inches (23 cm) of snow have fallen in Durham, North Carolina since Monday, with 7 inches (18 cm) or more measured at various locations across southern Virginia, the NWS said.

The storm has caused at least eight deaths.

In Austin, Texas, a vehicle plunged more than 30 feet (9 meters) off a frozen overpass on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed.

An 82-year-old woman who suffered from dementia was found dead on Wednesday behind her Houston-area home, likely due to exposure to cold, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said. Another woman died from cold exposure in Memphis, police said on Twitter.

In Georgia, two people were fatally struck by a car that slid on an ice patch near Macon, local media reports said.

A man was killed when he was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans and an 8-month-old baby died in a car crash in suburban New Orleans, local news reports said.

A woman died in West Virginia in a car crash, local reports said.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Edmund Blair and Bernadette Baum)