Flash floods crashed through the Dallas-Forth Worth area late Sunday and into Monday, sweeping up cars and trucks along the highway as some areas of the sister cities accumulated as much a 10 inches of rain, with a record breaking 3.01 inches slamming the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports, in just an hour. A video posted to Twitter by Dallas Texas TV shows vehicles peeled off to the side of an area highway while a river of water crashes down the highway, drowning some cars along the way. The National Weather Service called the flash flooding “life-threatening,” urging residents to stay off the roads or out of effected areas. The severity of the storm qualifies it as a “1-in-1,000-year flood,” according to The Washington Post, adding that over the last week, three 1-in-1,000 year rain events have hit the U.S., in St. Louis, eastern Kentucky and southeastern Illinois.
Streets and interstates remained waterlogged Monday afternoon, and some cars were left abandoned on inundated roads
Streets and highways around Dallas remained waterlogged Monday afternoon after flash floods struck the Dallas-Fort Worth area overnight, leaving at least one person dead. Signs of flooding lingered even after the rain mostly cleared from the metroplex.
In Mesquite, southeast of Dallas, a body was recovered Monday afternoon from a vehicle in a creek. Elsewhere, authorities conducted water rescues and evacuated residents from flooded areas; cars remained abandoned, some parked on the sides of interstates, either flooded or damaged in crashes; numerous highway ramps and lanes were shut down. At the interchange of Interstates 30, 45 and 75 — a trouble spot on good days — flooding had traffic down to a trickle in one lane.
In some isolated areas, the rainfall totals would be considered a 1-in-1,000-year flood — a remarkable reversal given the dramatic drought that Dallas had faced for months. Several rainfall gauges recorded more than 10 inches. A record-breaking 3.01 inches of rain was recorded in one hour at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
The downpour marked the latest such flood in the past few weeks across the United States. In one week alone, three 1-in-1,000-year rain events occurred, inundating St. Louis, eastern Kentucky and southeastern Illinois. The term, often considered controversial in part because it’s misunderstood, is used to describe a rainfall event that is expected once every 1,000 years, meaning it has just a 0.1 percent chance of happening in any given year — but such events can occur much more frequently.
Several water rescues were conducted early Monday across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As of 1:30 p.m. local time, Dallas Fire-Rescue had responded to 195 high-water incidents, according to Jason L. Evans, a spokesperson with the city’s emergency management office.
In Mesquite, firefighters were at a bridge Monday afternoon where the water had receded enough to reveal a car in the creek below. One body was recovered from the vehicle, according to Mesquite Fire Chief Rusty Wilson. Wilson added that rescuers had been called to the bridge after the driver, a woman, became unresponsive while on a call with family members.
At Skyview Stables, a horse training facility east of Dallas in Forney, the water had rushed in suddenly overnight. The owner of the stables, Stephanie McKinsey, and head trainer, Michelle Long, are in Kentucky with three of their horses for the World’s Championship Horse Show.
They awoke Monday morning to dozens of texts. The other 26 horses at the stables in Texas were standing in 11 inches of water, and the rain wasn’t stopping. The road to the property is shut down, and only a groomer and McKinsey’s daughter are there.
“We have no one to help bail out,” Long said.
The flooding has seriously damaged their stables, washing away all their new hay and shavings. Skyview Stables had moved locations just three weeks ago.
“We spent all that money and now the dirt from the arena is in the pond,” Long said.
One rain gauge in Dallas County, where Dallas is located, tallied more than 14.9 inches of rain within a 12-hour period, nearly 50 percent of the rainfall recorded at that site this year. Such rates of precipitation are nearly impossible for soils — not to mention impervious paved surfaces — to absorb without runoff that can cause flash flooding.
A communications outage caused by a Verizon line problem prevented the National Weather Service from issuing warnings from the Fort Worth office, the NWS confirmed to The Washington Post, though the office said it was working closely with partner offices to stay on top of the flooding. Spokesperson Susan Buchanan said that while the issue was being fixed, “long- and short-range forecasts and warnings for the Dallas-Fort Worth area continue to go out uninterrupted, through service backup by our forecast offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Norman, Oklahoma.”
After the flooding rains move out of the Dallas area, they are expected to track east along Interstate 20 toward areas such as Shreveport, La. The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center has forecast a moderate risk of excessive rainfall for northeastern Texas and northwestern Louisiana, with three to five inches of rain expected in the area and rates of two to three inches per hour possible.
More excessive rain is expected Tuesday, with the moderate risk for heavy rainfall spreading farther across northern Louisiana into parts of Alabama.