Rescuers searched for 12 people, including at least three young children, on Monday after heavy floods swamped Texas and Oklahoma — and forecasters warned that more rain and damaging winds are on the way.
At least four people were killed, including a 14-year-old boy in Texas who was found inside a storm drain and was believed to have drowned. Ten more were killed by a twister in a Mexican city just across the border from Texas.
Authorities in Hays County, Texas, increased the number of missing to 12 from eight. They included members of two families in the small town of Wimberley, three of whom are children under the age of 10, relatives told NBC News.
The 12 people were gathered in a Wimberley home when flash floods struck on Sunday, said Kharley Smith, the emergency management coordinator in Hays County. Smith said up to 72 structures in Wimberley had been washed away. “We have roads full of slabs now,” she said.
“A substantial amount of rain” Monday will complicate the search efforts, and create further danger in the county, Smith said. A curfew will be in place for a second night Monday, she said.
The town sits on the Blanco River, which runs between Austin and San Antonio and was one of the worst hit areas by the weekend floods. Waters rose so quickly Sunday that roads turned to torrents, 1,000 people were forced to evacuate.
The river rose to 34 feet in just three hours on Sunday — its height of 40.2 feet breaking a record crest dating to 1929 by nearly six feet. The National Weather Service in San Antonio said the river was causing “catastrophic” flooding.
Memorial Day events were canceled in the nearby Hays County city of San Marcos. The city said in a statement that the flooding was the “the most severe in recent memory.”
At least 1,200 structures in the county were damaged, Smith said.
About 200 miles to the west, a twister left 10 people dead in Ciudad Acuna, a city in Mexico situated across the border from Del Rio, Texas, according to The Associated Press.
In North Texas, including Dallas, forecasters warned of the possibility of the weather phenomenon known as a derecho — wind damage of more than 240 miles, coupled with wind gusts of 75 mph or greater. The threat was greatest for late afternoon.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in 24 counties, including Hays and Houston, where heavy winds damaged an apartment building and left two people injured Sunday.
Widespread heavy showers and thunderstorms could occur across most of Oklahoma, central and eastern Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, Roth said, possibly including damaging wind gusts, hail and isolated tornadoes.
A tornado touched down Monday morning in Smithville, Mississippi, leaving buildings damaged and trees toppled, according to the National Weather Service. A likely tornado in nearby Amory, Mississippi, downed large trees, but no injuries had been reported, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
The storms were the latest in what has been a particularly wet year for the Plains, with several towns and cities already breaking their all-time wettest month records this May.
Records continued to tumble Sunday, with the 3.3 inches that fell in Dallas making it the wettest May 24 in 117 years. Oklahoma City added to what is already its wettest ever month, the 18.69 inches to fall this May far outweighing the 14.92 inches that fell in May 2013, according to The Weather Channel.
On Monday, flash-flood warnings stretched from the Texas-Mexico border to western Tennessee and northern Missouri. Much of Oklahoma was under a flood warning.
Across the nation, 21 river gauges were recording a “major flood” and 47 were showing “moderate flooding,” most of which were in Texas and Oklahoma, according to Weather Channel lead meteorologist Kevin Roth.
In Broken Bow, Oklahoma, 13 people were trapped in a rental cabin on a river. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said they were not in danger, but were stuck on an island when authorities opened the flood gates at a nearby lake and the water level rose.
The weather system also triggered 36 reported tornadoes on Sunday in Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado and Iowa, according to the National Weather Service. Roth said that while that twister threat would persist in some areas on Monday it would be significantly lower than over the weekend.
The storms were expected to calm significantly from Tuesday through Friday. Roth said that “while there will be storms around later in the week, they should be more hit-and-miss and the rainfall will be less impressive.”