AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Heavy rains pelted Texas on Friday, flooding Dallas streets and scrambling air transport as the National Weather Service placed almost all of the state of 27 million people under a flood watch, warning of torrential downpours through the weekend.
Rains were expected to intensify over the weekend when moisture from monster Hurricane Patricia, which is threatening the Pacific coast of Mexico, meets with the storm system coming from the west and over Texas, a forecaster with the U.S. National Weather said.
“We would have rain without it (Hurricane Patricia), but we are definitely going to have more rain because of it,” said Nick Hampshire, with the U.S. National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio Forecast Office.
The flood watch stretches from the border with Mexico through San Antonio and into the Dallas and Houston area, a region where heavy rains and flooding in May killed more than 20 people and caused massive damage.
The two systems are expected to meet from Saturday morning and bring rains that last through Sunday, the weather service said. Rainfall could top 15 inches (38 cm) in some places while central Texas could see about 10 inches (25 cm), it said.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker warned of possible localized street flooding in low lying areas and urged people to stay at home once the rain starts.
“This is a great weekend to have movie night with the kids,” she told a news conference.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Friday activated the state operations center, which is designed to speed help to affected areas, ahead of the expected deluge.
About 400 flights were canceled at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, one of the country’s busiest, as of 2 p.m. CDT, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
Storms pounded western Texas on Thursday night, causing floods that lifted mobile homes off their foundations in Rankin, about 300 miles northwest of Austin, and causing numerous road accidents in Abilene and Odessa.
Mexico scrambled on Friday to prepare as Hurricane Patricia, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, bore down on its Pacific Coast, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and residents and a mad rush for emergency supplies.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Anna Driver in Houston and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Doina Chiacu and David Alexander