Storms dump record rain in Oklahoma and cause death in Texas

September 22, 2018 - 3:51 pm

DALLAS (AP) — A storm system dumped record amounts of rain in parts of Oklahoma and caused flooding in Texas, including in the Dallas area, where floodwaters swept a man from a bridge to his death near the University of Texas' campus in nearby Arlington.

"(A) witness ... stated that the victim was swept under a bridge by rushing waters," shortly before midnight Friday, according to Arlington Fire Department Lt. Mike Joiner.

The man's body was found a few hours later. His name hasn't been released.

The Dallas Fire Department said at least 15 people were rescued from the rising waters at about 7 a.m. Saturday, including five Dallas police officers and a motorist. The officers became trapped while trying to rescue the motorist.

Up to 45 homes in Everman, south of Fort Worth, were damaged by floodwaters as some residents were forced to scramble onto roofs to escape rising water.

"We had residents stranded up on top of their homes. People begging for help, screaming for help," Everman police Chief Craig Spencer told KXAS-TV.

Austin fire officials said some 60 people attending a wedding reception were rescued from rising waters that surrounded the venue early Saturday. Some at the reception were forced to climb trees to avoid the water, officials said.

In the Central Texas city of Killeen, patients were evacuated to other medical care facilities when a lightning strike knocked out power to Metroplex Hospital. Thirty-four patients were transported and there were no reports of injuries, according to a hospital statement.

A record 14 inches (35.56 centimeters) of rain fell Friday at the Oklahoma Climatological Survey's site in Fittstown, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Oklahoma City, and more than 2 additional inches fell before noon Saturday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Forrest Mitchell in Norman. The previous record of just less than 7 inches was set in July 1997, according to Mesonet records.

The downpours and threat of more rain has also forced cancellation of events from the Dallas area to northeastern Arkansas, including balloon festival in Plano to the Northeast Arkansas District Fair in Jonesboro, 390 miles (628 kilometers) away, where the already wet grounds were expected to be inundated by additional rain.

The weather service has said a zone of low-pressure over West Texas, tropical moisture off the Gulf of Mexico and an approaching cold front combined to produce the heavy rain that was moving into Arkansas, prompting flash flood watches until Sunday morning.

Light rain continued Saturday in southeastern Oklahoma and northeastern Texas while the leading edge of the storm moved into southwestern Arkansas, according to the weather service.

"In southwest Arkansas, another 3-4 inches" was expected as the slow moving storm tracked northeastward, according to meteorologist Tabitha Clarke with the weather service in Little Rock. "Already in southwest Arkansas, 3-5 inches" had accumulated.

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AP reporter David Warren reported from Dallas.

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