Tropical Storm Bill strikes Texas, might bring flooding rains

Updated 10:02 PM EDT, Tue June 16, 2015

Story highlights

NEW: Several inches of rain fell during the day but forecasters were concerned about the potential precipitation overnight

The storm is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain in eastern Texas and Oklahoma

Harris County, Texas, warning: "Bayous and rivers could go out of banks quickly"

CNN —  

Tropical Storm Bill hasn’t been quite the storm meteorologists anticipated, but it was still bringing significant rain to areas of Texas that have dealt with significant flooding.

Some areas near Houston had nearly 2 1/2 inches of rain Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. Forecasters were concerned that the storm would dump much more rain overnight.

“North side of TS #Bill has strong storms to contend with tonight,” the Weather Service’s office in Houston tweeted.

There were flash flood warnings for southeastern counties, the last of which was due to end at midnight local time.

The storm system is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches in eastern Texas and Oklahoma, with up to 12 inches in isolated spots in Texas. Western Louisiana and Arkansas are expected to see up to 4 inches of rain.

Bill made landfall as a tropical storm at 12:45 p.m. ET Tuesday, just south-southwest of Port O’Connor on Matagorda Island. It was downgraded to a tropical depression Wednesday morning by the National Hurricane Center, which said the storm is expected to weaken further as it travels toward northeastern Oklahoma.

The rain is bad news for a state recovering from last month’s record-setting rains and deadly flooding.

“While high winds and even tornadoes are possible, already wet grounds mean that even a moderate amount of rain will likely cause street flooding,” warned Harris County Emergency Management. “Bayous and rivers could go out of banks quickly, creating a serious threat to life and property.”

Flash flood watches are posted from Central Texas to Oklahoma, eastward through parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois over the next three days, CNN’s weather team reported.

“This is a rain event,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on CNN’s “New Day.” “People need to be aware that places that have flooded before are likely to flood again.”

Track the storm

Harris County is home to Houston, the state’s most populous city.

In neighboring Galveston County, authorities issued a voluntary evacuation for the Bolivar Peninsula, which sits in Galveston Bay. Potential rainfall could flood roads on the peninsula, making it harder to leave later or for emergency responders to reach the area.

On Tuesday, street flooding was a problem on Galveston Island, reported CNN affiliate KTRK. No serious injuries or property damage were reported except when the roof collapsed on a bank drive-through in southeast Harris County, KTRK reported.

Residents stocked up

Residents had already rushed to grocery and hardware stores, clearing the shelves of bottled water, batteries and booze.

“We bought the essentials for the storm,” a Sam’s Club shopper told CNN affiliate KTRK. “We got water, liquor and beer.”

People in Central Texas worry the storm may bring another round of deadly flooding. In Wimberly, floods along the Blanco River killed at least nine people and destroyed dozens of homes.

“Everyone’s a little gun-shy,” Lisa Kiefer told CNN affiliate KXAN. “Three weeks ago, after the flood, helicopters were in town for days, and the Red Cross trucks … you just couldn’t get away from the fact the community was so damaged.”

Flights affected

Air travel was affected at Houston airports

According to, 11% of flights from Bush Intercontinental Airport were canceled and 35% were delayed Tuesday, while 16% of flights from William P. Hobby Airport were canceled and 10% were delayed. The website doesn’t say how many cancellations or delays were caused by weather.

Dozens of school systems along the coast called off classes for Tuesday, including the Houston and Galveston Independent School Districts.


Texas put its special operations center on alert ahead of the storm’s landfall.

“Any additional rainfall will exacerbate already saturated grounds, which could quickly lead to dangerous flash flooding and extended river flooding,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.

Along the Gulf, the U.S. Coast Guard mobilized, too.

“We got all of our helicopters, aircraft and boats in ready status,” Lt. Eric Vryheid, a U.S. Coast Guard pilot, told affiliate KRIS.

“We’re taking the storm seriously,” said Vryheid. “We urge that the community takes it seriously as well. We don’t want anyone getting caught in an unsafe situation.”

Bill should weaken quickly over land. It will linger in the region through Wednesday.

The state has barely recovered from May’s record-setting rainfall.

Torrential rains dumped 37.3 trillion gallons of water on the state during the month, enough to cover the entire state with 8 inches of water, according to the National Weather Service.

Last month’s storms killed at least 43 people in the United States and Mexico.

“Any additional rainfall will exacerbate already saturated grounds, which could quickly lead to dangerous flash flooding and extended river flooding,” he said in a statement.

CNN’s Mariano Castillo and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.