Hopkins County, N. Texas under flash flood watch

Severe storms, hail possible in area tonight

From Staff and Wire Reports

Mar. 30, 2007 - Hopkins County and the rest of North Texas is under a flash flood watch after Thursday night storms dumped as much as 7 inches of rain in some areas.

More precipitation is in the forecast for tonight and Saturday, and Mother Nature could bring severe thunderstorms with heavy rain and even hail.

Rainfall only totaled 1.12 inches at the weather station at Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport, but flood-like deluges in other areas led to numerous high-water rescues, although no injuries were reported.

��It fell hard and fast,�� said Corsicana police Sgt. Jimmie Hensley. ��We had a lot of street flooding, intersections flooded. We had to rescue several people from their cars.��

Several businesses in Corsicana were flooded and about 60 elderly people from an assisted living center were evacuated to a church, said Eric Meyers, Navarro County Emergency Management coordinator.

Many smaller roads were still closed into Friday morning, but most major interstates were open. Interstate 35 northbound near Abbott was closed for a time Thursday evening but had reopened by early Friday morning, a dispatcher in Hill County said.

Hill County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Lyon said that before shutting down I-35, the Abbott volunteer fire department made four high-water rescues there.

The county got ‘‘just a lot of water real fast,’’ Lyon said.

Also in Hill County, the westbound lane of State Highway 22 in Mertens was washed out, Lyon said. In the city of Whitney, 11 people were evacuated from a flooded apartment building near a creek.

A dispatcher with the Ellis County sheriff’s department said that there were several reports of homes flooding from Waxahachie into the southern part of the county. She said that near the town of Italy, there was a swift-water rescue Thursday evening in which two people were rescued.

High winds downed trees and powerlines in some areas as the storms moved eastward, said Joe Harris, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

A flash flood watch was issued for all of North Texas by the National Weather Service about 5 a.m. this morning. The weather watch remains in effect at least through this evening, as rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are likely across the regiona, with isolated amounts in excess of 4 inches possible.

"This amount of rainfall falling on increasingly saturated grounds will create excessive runoff and the potential for flash flooding," according to the weather statement.

The worst of the storm activity tonight is anticipated in the southwest portion of North Texas, generally southwest of a line from Palo Pinto to Temple, but that does not mean the rest of the region will be spared the risk of damaging weather.

"Across the remainder of North Texas, wind shear and instability will not be as favorable for tornadic storms, but large hail and damaging winds will be possible," forecasters warned.

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