Strong winds and flash floods plagued southeast Texas today after an unusually dry winter, with rainfall exceeding the monthly average in a few hours.
City roads were flooded and thousands of Houston residents, including students of at least five schools, were without electricity after strong thunderstorms hit the area, prompting a tornado warning and several inches of rain and hail, according to the Associated Press.
The torrential downpour came as a shock to many Texans, after 2011 finished as the driest year on record for that area, according to the National Weather Service.
Even with the sudden increase in rain, however, Texas will remain in a drought. “We’re not going to end the drought this winter even if we have above-normal rainfall,” state climatologist John Nielson-Gammon told the AP.
Houston endured a total of 4.05 inches of rain by 4 p.m. today, according to the National Weather Service. The monthly rainfall average for that area is 3.79 inches.
A funnel cloud was sighted southwest of Houston and roads flooded across downtown Houston. Flooding shut down exit ramps and lanes on several major highways, wreaking havoc on the Houston area.