Rain makes Saturday return in Houston area

HOUSTON Some of our rivers, bayous and creeks aren't expected to crest until later today. And though neither the coverage nor intensity of the rain is expected to be as great today as it was yesterday, the ground is saturated and any additional rain could cause flooding pretty quickly.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect through this evening for Houston and Harris County, and the following counties: Galveston, Brazoria, Matagorda, Jackson, Wharton, Ft. Bend, Colorado, Austin and Waller.

Harris County Flood Control District officials said that water in several bayous and creeks, including parts of Greens Bayou, Mayde Creek and Cypress Creek, officially went out of their banks Friday afternoon because of the strong storms.

Water in Halls Bayou near Interstate 45 and Airline soared more than two feet over the bank, flooding homes nearby. The Harris County Flood Control District also reported that some houses in the Independence Heights area flooded.

High water caused police to block off several intersections all over the Houston area and detour drivers off some roads and highways. Some drivers who tried to get through the flooded streets got stuck in the water.

Along the North Freeway, it seemed as though only tow trucks were able to make it through. While the roads made the rush hour commute treacherous, down the road, it was another pressing situation for an elderly couple in north Houston. They had to be rescued from their home. It was the 13th time their house has flooded since 1979.

"I lost it, my cool, you know," the elderly man said. "They come out to fix this, and they didn't fix it; it's terrible."

They were taken to the home of relatives.

At Buffalo Bayou, the water also had risen so much that workers preparing Eleanor Tinsley Park for the Independence Day celebration Freedom Over Texas with Fireworks Presented by Shell had to set off some of the fireworks for safety reasons.

The tents that had already been set up in anticipation of the Sunday event were nearly covered to the top with water.

"We were putting up one tent, and we were almost done when we noticed the bayou was going up," worker Juan De Dios Nuncio said. "(We said) 'Hey guys, hurry up because we have to get out of here man!'"

Show organizers say the show will go on.

Houston airport officials also reported major flight delays and diversions because of the weather. Dozens of flights from Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports were diverted to Ellington Airport because of the downpours.

CenterPoint Energy had reported that almost 20,000 of its customers had lost power at one point on Friday.

The severity of the Friday's storms has caused to many to wonder what's happening.

"Some of the moisture was initially brought into Texas by Hurricane Alex," Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller explained.

Then the strong southeast winds added to the soggy situation by bringing very moist air in from the Gulf of Mexico, he said. Meanwhile, winds in the upper atmosphere blew from the northwest, causing moisture to converge in the Houston area, producing squalls of heavy rain.

"Most neighborhoods around Houston have picked up 3 to 5 inches of rain over the last three days," Heller said. "More than 10 inches of rain has fallen closer to the coast, with the most rain falling in Brazoria County. The San Bernard River will crest about 2 feet above flood stage near Sweeny this weekend."

Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Harris County Flood Control District are urging residents who experienced flooding in their homes to complete our Flooding Incident Report.

Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller's forecast for July 4th
The heaviest storms should shift north and west this weekend. Heavy rain is possible in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Here in the Houston area, we expect more rain on Saturday, but a little less on Sunday. A few peeks of the sun are even possible! However, the rain that does develop will heavy.

Folks planning on attending the Freedom over Texas celebration on Sunday should expect the ground to be wet and muddy. There's only a 40% chance of dry weather Sunday afternoon but there should be fewer showers on MegaDoppler 13 late Sunday evening when the fireworks explode in the sky over downtown Houston.

Meantime in the tropics...
We're watching an area of storms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. If a tropical cyclone develops it will not move toward Texas but could affect the oil spill south of Louisiana. North winds could actually move some of the oil away from the coast.

The European Model is also forecasting a new tropical system in the Bay of Campeche next week, very close to where Hurricane Alex developed. I mention this because the European did particularly well forecasting the development of Alex and the eventual landfall in northern Mexico.

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