A fast-moving, ferocious downpour soaked North Texas on Tuesday, leaving drivers stranded in flash floods and tangling afternoon commutes.
Two to 3 inches of rain fell in just 90 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
The Fort Worth Fire Department responded to 42 high-water calls,. 21 reports of downed power lines and one structure fire. Police dispatch reported more than 100 calls for service related to weather between 4 and 6 p.m.
The city’s emergency management office urged residents to stay home and not drive into water, as several feet of water covered some streets.
“We had so much rain fall in such a short period of time in areas with a lot of concrete,” said Mark Fox, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. “That created the perfect conditions for flash floods.”
A probable lightning strike set a house on fire in the 3900 block of West Sixth Street, and emergency crews responded to more than 20 reports of downed power lines, Battalion Chief Richard Harrison said. No injuries were reported.
“Problems were widespread across the city,” Harrison said.
The start of the Fort Worth school board’s regular meeting was delayed because the weather slowed some trustees’ travel. And power to the school administration building was knocked out.
There were no reports of injury.
Caught in flooding
In downtown Fort Worth, Allison Scales, 42, left her job at the Fort Worth Club at 4:30 p.m. As she crested a hill westbound on West Lancaster Avenue just before the Henderson Street intersection, she saw that water had pooled in a low spot, but made it through with no problem in her Chrysler Town and Country.
But stopped by the light in the downpour, Scales watched the water rapidly rise around her until it reached the rocker panels of her SUV.
“It was like, whoosh, and it flooded. I felt the steering wheel start to lock up and I gunned the engine and went through the light,” she said.
Scales drove about 30 yards, feeling the truck’s engine not running properly and pulled into a gas station’s entry. Just as she got off the street, the engine died.
It was about 4:35 p.m. At 5:10 p.m. she was still waiting for help to come, talking on her cell phone to her frightened daughter and son, also stranded at different spots.
“It’s OK, honey,” she told her daughter. “It’s just rain. Everything will be fine.”
In the eastbound lane, a yellow sports car was abandoned in water that reached halfway up its wheel wells. Firefighters directed drivers through the intersection because the traffic lights had failed.
A couple of people drove through on westbound Lancaster with water splashing over their bumpers until police officers blocked Lancaster at the top of the hill and at Henderson.
By 5 p.m., the water had receded, and emergency crews opened the roads and left for other calls.
Three rainy days
Tuesday’s showers were the third consecutive day of rainfall. One to more than 2 inches fell across Tarrant County Sunday and Monday
The official rainfall recorded at DFW Airport Tuesday, however, was only 0.01, bringing the three-day total to 1.22 inches.
A 30-percent chance of rain is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, although Fox said the systems should not be as severe as Tuesday’s.
Much more rain is needed to help the region recover from a scorching drought. So far this year, Tarrant County has received 9.52 inches of rain, far less than the average 19.42 inches.
“Every drop of rain helps,” Fox said. “Will this break the drought? No.”
Staff writer Terry Evans contributed to this report.