Tropical Storm “Bill” roared into Texas on Tuesday, smashing into the beleaguered coast with heavy rains, sustained winds of 30 mph and gusts as high as 45 mph.

National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy said landfall took place Tuesday morning near the small town of Port O’Connor. A storm surge of 2-4 inches was expected from there north to Galveston Bay, he said.

“The biggest takeaways from this storm is heavy rains for two or three days, flash flooding and river flooding,” Murphy told USA TODAY. The region will see 6-10 inches of rain, and “there will be some areas that get more,” he said.

There is no place for the water to go: Texas has been blasted with heavy rains for the last two months. The Gainesville area already has seen 34 inches in 60 days, Murphy said. The annual average rainfall is 40 inches.

“Reservoirs are already full,” Murphy said. “Instead of taking the water in, they are going to have to release water.”

Schools in Houston were closed as the region braced for the onslaught of wind and water. The good news: Bill was expected to weaken after moving over land.

A Flash Flood Watch is effect for the Houston area through 6 p.m. Wednesday with street flooding likely from 6 to 8 inches of rain expected, the National Hurricane Center said. West of Houston, 10 to 15 inches of rain may fall, and south of the city, where heavy rains hit Saturday morning, the ground is already saturated.

Some areas of the state are still recovering from up to 25 inches of rain since early May.

“Instead of just an isolated area, it’s going to be area-wide,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. “If you don’t have to be out Tuesday, Tuesday evening, don’t.”

People living along the Brazos and Colorado river basins should expect significant flooding as the tropical moisture moves through, forecasters said.

The Harris County Office of Emergency Management has been activated.

And in North Texas, if Yogi Berra worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he’d be talking about déjà vu all over again.

“We’re going to have spillway activity, roads closed, impact to downstream properties,” said Corps engineer Jerry Cotter.

He said 5 to 7 inches of rain would create flooding very similar to what the area saw two weeks ago. Corps lakes have reduced discharges, but they’re still releasing water enough to protect the lakes without doing harm on the lower Trinity River.

“So we’ve been sitting here waiting for the floods to recede on the lower Trinity,” Cotter said. “We haven’t made much headway emptying out these flood-control pools.”

He said flood control lakes have been performing as they’re supposed to. He said Lake Ray Roberts now has a little capacity, which should help, depending on where the rain falls.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” Cotter said. “That we have enough capacity to handle it when it hits.”

Nevertheless, he says people who live and work downstream from Lewisville Lake should expect a repeat performance from the end of May.

 

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