Emergencies declared as severe flooding swamps south-central Texas; multiple tornadoes reported

Severe And Flood Threat in South

By Weather.com

After months of dry weather, it only took a few hours to put south-central Texas back in the nightmare of extreme flooding experienced by so many towns in May.

The flash flood emergency was in effect for much of Comal County, as well as parts of Hays and Bexar counties, according to the National Weather Service. This includes areas like northern San Antonio and New Braunfels. Later Friday, a state of disaster was declared for the county, the Austin Statesman reported.

At the Blanco River in San Marcos, both directions of Interstate 35 were closed Friday afternoon due to high water, the Statesman said in a separate report. That road reopened several hours later, but officials urged all residents to stay home.

MORE: Track Severe Weather in the South

A separate flood emergency was issued in South Austin, in areas near Onion Creek in Travis County. For those looking for a place to take shelter in the Onion Creek area, Dittmar Recreation Center has been made available.

Near Driftwood, Onion Creek quickly rose to a new record level. Before noon Friday, water levels at that part of the creek were already above the previous record of 25.1 feet, and the waterway was expected to continue its rise.

More than 10 inches of rain fell in a two-hour span near the creek Friday morning. Multiple people were rescued from floodwaters in Travis County earlier Friday morning.

The rainfall became so extreme that the airfield of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport had to be closed late Friday morning, the airport announced.

"We do have some water rescues ongoing, and that could become a bigger problem later today if the rain continues into rush hour," said Joe Arellano, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Austin, while speaking with The Weather Channel.

The Austin County Emergency Management Service reported Friday afternoon that multiple residents in the Man-O-War/Maha Loop/Quicksilver area were stranded on their rooftops and rescues were underway.

Among those rescued earlier in the day was a church group from Dallas, stuck at a Wimberley bed-and-breakfast when a nearby creek overflowed and trapped them. Kathleen Haney told the Associated Press she and seven others from the Dallas group were saved by members of the National Guard when they strung a rope between the staircase and higher ground, and they were then brought to safety.

The flooding was so strong that it swept away three of their cars and snapped several trees, she told the AP.

Floods Force Evacuations

Flooding has forced San Marcos city officials to close an evacuation center at the San Marcos Activity Center Friday afternoon. Citizens who were waiting out the flood at the Activity Center were bussed to a new evacuation center at Miller Middle School. Residents were seeking shelter at Activity Center after City officials ordered evacuations along the San Marcos and Blanco Rivers.

Evacuations were ongoing in the Wimberley area Friday morning, as a bridge over Cypress Creek may be threatened by rising floodwaters. Rain was falling at rates of up to 6 inches per hour Friday morning in Texas, storm reports showed.

In Austin, boats were being deployed by the Austin Fire Department to help with water rescues. Passenger vehicles were nearly submerged by floodwaters near the interchange linking U.S. Highway 183 and State Route 71 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport late Friday morning.

Many of the small creeks that run through the city of Austin were raging torrents Friday morning, with some near or above flood stage.

Areas near the Blanco River were also being evacuated Friday morning, and the bridge over the river at RR 12 in Wimberley was closed.

San Antonio officials reported more than a dozen road closures Friday morning as heavy rain caused flooding. In eastern Bexar County, a school bus with children inside got stuck in high water, and crews were able to successfully remove everyone inside, the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said via Twitter.

New Braunfels officials warned residents to take flooding seriously and get to safety. A civil emergency message was issued for Comal County, warning residents that river flooding along the Comal and Guadalupe rivers was imminent, and residents in low-lying areas should evacuate to Canyon High School.

Texas State University announced its Round Rock and San Marcos campuses would be closed on Friday as a result of the conditions.

Events Canceled in Brownsville

More than a half-foot of rainfall has been observed in parts of Brownsville on Friday, creating widespread travel problems. Several streets were closed, according to the Brownsville Herald, and power outages also knocked out many traffic lights in the city.

Hundreds of homes in Brownsville lost power during the storms, and thousands more were in the dark in the suburbs, the report added. All Halloween events scheduled Friday night by the Brownsville Police Department have been canceled, the Herald also said.

Reported Tornadoes Leave Damage

The towns of D'Hanis and Floresville took the hardest hit from the early Friday suspected tornadoes. There were also reports of damage near San Marcos as the severe weather pushed northeast. Bluebonnet Electric tweeted photos of a mangled transmission tower near San Marcos Friday afternoon.

NWS meteorologist Jason Runyen said businesses have been damaged in downtown D'Hanis and that trees are also down. Medina County authorities told NBC San Antonio that a bank was destroyed and other buildings were damaged, but they were unsure if there were any injuries.

The Wilson County Sheriff's Office told The Weather Channel that Floresville High School was damaged. No injuries have been reported from either of the suspected tornadoes.

When the suspected tornado hit Floresville at about 6 a.m. local time, Ruth Veliz was at her parents' taco shop with about a dozen customers and employees. She told the AP an employee exclaimed "Tornado!" and attempted to close the door as strong winds bore down on the building.

Those inside the shop took cover anywhere they could and rode out the storm. "We were all caught off guard, everyone just grabbed on to what they could get their hands on," Veliz told the AP.

Floresville ISD said on its Facebook page that schools will be closed Friday.

The Wilson County Sheriff's Office told The Weather Channel that Floresville High School was damaged. No injuries have been reported from either of the suspected tornadoes.

Floresville ISD said on its Facebook page that schools will be closed Friday.

Some homes and other structures between Seguin and Zorn lost roofs during the storms, Guadalupe County Sheriff's Capt. Tom Meeley told the Associated Press.

D'Hanis is located some 50 miles west of San Antonio, while Floresville is about 30 miles southeast of the San Antonio. The two cities are about 70 miles apart.

More Storms on the Way

Severe weather is expected to continue in the Southern Plains throughout the day. Over the weekend, other areas could also see dangerous storms.

"The threats are two-fold. First, warm and very humid air coupled with an approaching southward dip in the jet stream will spawn severe thunderstorms, some of which may spawn tornadoes, in Texas and the Deep South through Saturday," said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. "Secondly, areas of slow-moving, heavy rain will trigger flash flooding in Texas and Oklahoma through early Saturday, then spread into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Deep South later Saturday. This flood threat includes San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston."

This is a developing story. Please check back frequently for updates.

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