Texas Braces for Tropical Storm Bill's Heavy Rain, Floods

by Alex Johnson and Elisha Fieldstadt /  / Updated 

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Waterlogged Texas dug in for even more heavy rain and high winds Monday night as Tropical Storm Bill barreled through the Gulf of Mexico.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Texas coast from Baffin Bay to High Island, and flood watches were in effect for much of the central and eastern parts of the state — including the Houston, San Antonio and Austin metro areas — as the storm churned away about 155 miles south-southeast of Galveston.

At 9 p.m. (10 p.m. ET), the system was moving northwest straight for the Texas coast, packing maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

Residents on Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County, about 45 miles south of Houston, were under a voluntary evacuation order, according to County Judge Mark Henry.

The new system comes as Texas is still recovering from record rainfall in May, which caused floods that killed at least 23 people since Memorial Day.

Carl Parker, a hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel, said the storm should make landfall about 2 a.m. Tuesday ET, with heavy rain reaching the Houston area about midday and continuing through the evening through the evening as it travels north near Dallas and Austin.

"What we're talking about here is a very large area of 3-plus inches of rain, and in that, there are going to be pockets of 5 to 8 inches of rain," Parker said.

"This is going to be in areas where the ground is saturated, so that is why flooding looms large in this case," he said.

Gov. Greg Abbott activated a state operations center in preparation for the storm. "Any additional rainfall will exacerbate already saturated grounds, which could quickly lead to dangerous flash flooding and extended river flooding," he said.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said Houston and the rest of the county had the advantage of warning before May's storms, but he still urged residents to be vigilant, especially while driving. "We don't want to see the tragedy of three weeks ago," he said.

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