Storms early Monday brought heavy rains to the region that spurred brief but intense flash flooding in Longview causing water-rescue situations in the city.
According to the National Weather Service Shreveport office, 2 to 3.5 inches of rain had fallen Monday in Longview as of late afternoon. The majority of the rain fell between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
“We did have quite a bit of heavy rainfall over much of Gregg County, particularly Longview,” Meteorologist Charlie Woodrum said.
About 1.79 inches of rain was recorded at the East Texas Regional Airport.
The most significant portion of rain fell in the city and in the downtown area, according to Woodrum.
“The city saw more of the flash flooding,” he said.
The Longview Fire Department’s water rescue team was deployed.
“We were utilizing members of that team,” Longview Fire Department Spokesperson Kevin May said. “They have the life jackets and ropes and special equipment.”
There were at least two water rescues in downtown Longview and another in a neighborhood off of Judson Road.
Crews responded to reported calls for water rescues on Green Street between Tyler and Cotton streets and on High Street between Tyler and Cotton.
May said one person was rescued at their vehicle on High Street. He was unsure about the Green Street call for rescue.
Another water rescue was performed Monday morning at Drake Boulevard and Pickett Street.
“She was still in her car when we got there,” May said of the rescue at Drake and Pickett. One of the first responders on the crew tethered himself and walked out to the car to rescue the woman and put a life jacket on her, May said.
“It was about three feet deep when we got there,” he said. “By the time they got to her, it was about two feet deep.”
The two were able to walk carefully back to “dry land.”
May said there were no injuries to the crew or those rescued Monday morning.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the area at 9:29 a.m., at about the same time as the calls for water rescues came in to dispatchers. The warning remained in effect until 11:30 a.m. but the rain continued throughout the day.
Barricades were placed at the two downtown underpasses to prevent motorists from trying to drive under them due to water over the road.
With the risk of storms continuing through the week in East Texas, Woodrum said the possibility of more flash flooding can’t be ruled out.
The National Weather Service advises motorists to be aware of their surroundings and to not drive on flooded roads. Most flood deaths, they said, happen in vehicles.
“Know some alternate routes,” May said.
The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters, according to the National Weather Service.
“People underestimate the force and power of water,” the service’s statement said. “Never drive around the barriers blocking a flooded road.”
Woodrum said the area will return to the summer afternoon thunderstorm pattern Tuesday. Isolated strong thunderstorms capable of producing gusty winds, heavy rainfall and flooding are possible. Low lying and poor drainage areas are at the highest risk for flooding.
Thunderstorms are possible after 1 p.m. with a 40% chance of precipitation with temperatures in the high 80s. There is a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. Wednesday with a high of 90 degrees.
Chances for afternoon thunderstorms continue Thursday and Friday as temperatures climb to the mid-90s. Warmer and more dry conditions can be expected by the weekend.
Woodrum said the area is at zero risk for drought conditions. As of Monday morning, before the heavy rainfall, Longview recorded 2.44 inches of rainfall for July at East Texas Regional Airport. The average at this point in July is 1.66 inches of precipitation, Woodrum said.
With the addition of Monday’s rainfall, there will likely be 5 to 6 inches of rainfall for the month. The “norm” for June through mid-July in Longview is 5.88 inches. This year, the total was 5.44 inches before Monday’s rainfall.
“It’s not too far out of line for a normal rainfall this summer at Longview airport,” Woodrum said.