A massive rainstorm in North Texas drenched parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area with more than 30 centimetres of rain, swamping roads and triggering flash flood warnings, in what one expert called a “one-in-200-year event”.
A woman, 60, died after floodwaters fed by torrential rainfall swept away her car, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins reported on Monday.
He declared a state of disaster in the county, following an intense storm that dropped more than 23cm of rain at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
This was the second wettest 24-hour period in the airport’s history, said the National Weather Service.
“It fell too fast, too furious,” said Jonathan Porter, chief meteorologist at commercial forecaster Accuweather.
Climate change has fuelled more frequent historic rains and flooding, since a warmer atmosphere tends to support greater moisture, which has led to an acceleration of these kinds of extreme rainfall events, Mr Porter said.
Police in Fort Worth responded to more than 50 water-related emergencies overnight and the city’s fire department asked people to stay at home.
Photos posted online show cars submerged to their windscreens and motorways that looked like rivers.
Parts of Dallas received more than 35cm of rain on Monday, city records showed.
“It’s a one-in-200-year event, at least,” said Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist at commercial forecaster WeatherTiger.
“That's not normal, by any means.”
Average annual rainfall in the area is about 89cm, so some neighbourhoods had as much rain as would normally fall in four months, he said.
The period before the downpour was abnormally dry, with less than 2.5cm of rain in July and August up until a few days ago, Mr Truchelut said.
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Bloomberg contributed to this report