DALLAS (AP) — Powerful storms dumped heavy rain on parts of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma on Tuesday, causing flooding that led to a school bus rescue, property damage from suspected tornadoes and the death of a boater whose canoe capsized in strong winds.
By the time the storm system leaves Texas and Oklahoma — likely Wednesday — it could dump up to a foot of rain on some areas, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer McNatt. It could linger in Arkansas and Louisiana through Thursday.
Suspected tornado damage was reported in rural communities southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, but McNatt said survey teams hadn’t confirmed as of Tuesday morning whether it was caused by tornadoes or straight-line winds. Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds told Dallas-Fort Worth station KXAS-TV that four mobile homes were damaged and four people injured overnight.
Authorities near Houston said they’ve recovered the body of a 22-year-old man whose canoe capsized as he and another man were fishing in a bayou near Galveston Bay.
Dallas-based utility Oncor at one point reported more than 40,000 customers without power Tuesday as strong winds brought down trees and traffic lights. Winds of up to 70 mph were reported and tornado warnings were issued for parts of central and eastern Texas.
Emergency personnel waded through thigh-deep water to rescue six children from a school bus caught on a flooded road north of Fort Worth.
McNatt said that in addition to flash flooding, there’s widespread river flooding, but the damage isn’t expected to be extensive.
“We’ve had a relatively dry January and February, so the lakes aren’t full and the rivers aren’t as full, either,” she said.
Bands of torrential rain were moving through northeastern Oklahoma and forecasters said parts of the state’s southeast could get up to 7 inches.
The weather service issued a flood advisory for the Illinois River near Tahlequah, in eastern Oklahoma, cautioning that the river could rise to 10.9 feet by Friday — with flood stage on the Illinois at 11 feet.
The Poteau River near the town of Panama, which runs through Arkansas and Oklahoma, could also flood, the weather service said. Flood stage for the river is 29 feet and the rains were expected to cause the river to reach 32.7 feet by Thursday.
Pete Snyder, a meteorologist with the weather service in Tulsa, said the storm system “is somewhat meandering,” producing the chance for more rain through the rest of the week.
“The storms are not that much severe here because of where the low is located, but there could be several strong storms that sneak into the area, but for the most part it’s going to be a heavy rain,” Snyder said.
In northwestern Arkansas, heavy rain was expected to begin Tuesday evening and last through early Friday, with up to 8 inches possible west of Little Rock. The service said minor to moderate flooding could occur on the Ouachita, Little Missouri, Fourche LaFave, Petit Jean and Saline rivers.
The system is unrelated to one that brought powerful thunderstorms to much of California on Monday, walloping the Sierra Nevada with blizzard conditions and briefly knocking out power at the Los Angeles airport.