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Heavy rain lashes Texas, triggers flash flood warnings

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Houston: Heavy rains are triggering flash flood warnings and tornado watches in the US state of Texas, a day after the most powerful Hurricane Patricia hit Mexico and headed towards Houston.

Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful hurricane ever measured, was downgraded to a tropical depression after making landfall in Mexico and heading toward the Houston area, where local officials said it could dump 8 to 12 inches of rain.

Heavy rains are triggering flash flood warnings and tornado watches, a voluntary evacuation call for the Bolivar Peninsula and the closure of underwater roadways in Houston.

Houston leaders warned that the area’s bayous can only accommodate about five additional inches and acknowledged the math wasn’t favorable.

“Expectation is probably not the right word,” County Judge Ed Emmett said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. “Fear would be the word.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said, “There will be localised flooding in Houston, primarily street flooding in Houston and Harris County, because of our terrain. That is just a fact.”

The National Weather Service predicted six to 12 inches of rain for coastal areas, including southwest Louisiana by Monday which were exacerbated by tides up to five feet and wind gusts up to 35 mph.

After the severe flooding on Saturday, by early Sunday morning, forecasters said the relentless storms that had dumped more than a foot of rain in some parts of Texas were moving on.

As of late Saturday, there were no reported deaths or injuries in Houston, but authorities were responding to several stranded motorists. Multiple cars were submerged on highways and few roads were closed for traffic.

The weekend rainfall marked the second time in five months severe weather pounded Texas.

In May, a series of storms triggered floods and led to 21 deaths, prompting President Barack Obama to declare parts of the state as disaster areas.