Soaking rains in South’s forecast; 2 drownings reported

A large storm system took up residence over parts of the South on Wednesday, drenching areas already inundated with heavy rainfall this week. Two people have drowned in Oklahoma and Texas, and the rain is expected to stay in the forecast for much of the week.

A flash flood warning is in effect for parts of eastern Texas, southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana, and forecasters said some of the areas could see damaging winds and isolated tornadoes on Wednesday as well. Flash flooding was expected from the Texas Gulf Coast to southern Illinois, with the heaviest rain likely to fall in southeast Texas and the Ozark and Ouachita mountains of Arkansas, the National Weather Service said.

In rural southeastern Oklahoma, a 30-year-old man drowned Tuesday night after trying to drive his SUV across a low-crossing bridge that was covered by floodwaters. In Texas, a 22-year-old man drowned Monday night after his canoe capsized in Dickinson Bayou, southeast of Houston near Galveston Bay.

Up to 7 inches of rain was expected through Wednesday and up to 12 inches by the end of the weekend along the Texas-Louisiana border and central Arkansas. Flash flood watches have been issued Wednesday for areas from Port O’Connor, Texas, to near Springfield, Illinois.

Some flooding was reported late Tuesday in northwestern Louisiana between Shreveport and Minden, with up to 80 homes and a nursing home being evacuated. No injuries have been reported.

The flooding comes after recent severe thunderstorms raged across parts of Central and North Texas. A tornado struck a mobile home park in the North Texas town of Tolar on Monday morning, smashing some homes and injuring two people after two other tornadoes late Sunday injured two people in the North Texas towns of Stephenville and Cool.

Storm winds damaged dozens of boats Tuesday at Lake Benbrook near Fort Worth, Texas, dismasting some of them and tossing picnic tables into the lake.

The system is not related to one that brought powerful thunderstorms to much of California on Monday, walloping the Sierra Nevada with blizzard conditions and briefly knocking out power at the Los Angeles airport.

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