DALLAS (AP) — Heavy rains across the drought-stricken Dallas-Fort Worth area on Monday caused streets to flood, submerging vehicles as officials warned motorists to stay off the roads and water seeped into some homes and businesses.
“The Dallas-Fort Worth area was pretty much ground zero for the heaviest rain overnight,” said Daniel Huckaby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The official National Weather Service record station at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport reported 9.02 inches (22.9 centimeters) of rain in the 24 hours ending at noon Monday. That ranked second for the top 10 most rain over 24 hours in Dallas on record. The most was 9.57 inches (24.3 centimeters) that fell Sept. 4-5, 1932.
Emergency responders across the area reported responding to dozens of high-water calls.
“We’ve been in drought conditions, so the ground soaked up a lot of it but when you get that much rain over that short a period of time, it’s certainly going to cause flooding, and that’s what we saw, definitely in the urban areas here,” Huckaby said.
In Balch Springs, a Dallas suburb where last month a grass fire that started in a tinder-dry open field damaged over two dozen homes, officials on Monday were rescuing people from flooded homes.
“The water has nowhere to go and the creeks are starting to kind of flood over some. We’re just having them hunker in place until we can get to them by boat,” said fire Chief Eric Neal, who did not yet have a count of the number of rescues they’ve done.
At White Rock Lake in Dallas, where the water level has been low through the baking summer months, people with umbrellas and water-proof jackets braved the rain Monday morning to watch the deluge transform the lake’s previously dry concrete spillway into what looked like a roaring river.
Trenton Cody, 29, said he drove over Monday morning to take a look at the effect the floodwaters were having on the lake’s dam.
“It looks like we’re high in the mountains somewhere with some like Class V rapids, which is crazy,” Cody said.
Huckaby said that the flooding started overnight on streets and interstates.
“It fell very, very quickly,” Huckaby said. “We had some locations there in Dallas that had more than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of rain even in one hour.”
He noted that with so much concrete in urban areas, “there’s just only so much that the drain systems can handle.”
The water seeped into some businesses. Peter Tarantino, who owns Tarantino’s Cicchetti Bar and Record Lounge in Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News that about 6 inches of water flowed into the dining room, but had receded by late morning.
He said he may be able to salvage the furniture but he’ll need to replace rugs and carpets.
“I’m hoping by Thursday we’ll be able to open up the bar with a few snacks,” he told the newspaper. “I don’t give up too easily.”
The heavy rain is expected to move out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area later Monday, Huckaby said.
Meanwhile, the weather has caused hundreds of delays and cancellations in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and at Dallas Love Field.
Associated Press journalists Terry Wallace in Dallas and Julie Walker in New York also contributed to this report.