May 10 (Reuters) - Hailstones the size of golf balls along with fast, heavy rains pelted the Texas’ Gulf coast from Houston up into Louisiana, bringing as much as 4 inches of rain, flooded highways and downed power lines, officials said.
More than 159,000 homes and businesses in Texas, were without power early Friday and another 17,000 customers without electricity in Louisiana, according to the tracking site, PowerOutage.US.
“Most of this storm developed right over Houston Thursday evening,” said Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
“Some of the rainfall was outlandishly fast,” Burke said. “Several of our reliable rain-spotters reported seeing multiple inches of rain in under an hour. That much water in a short time just accelerates the amount of damage that can happen.”
There were no confirmed reports of tornadoes overnight, but the rain comes atop several days of heavy precipitation. Some southeastern Texas communities saw a total of 10 inches of rain since Tuesday, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
Police did not have an assessment of damage or injuries early Friday, but the Houston Chronicle reported that parts of the U.S. Interstate 10 highway in the city was closed late Thursday in east Houston, stranding at least 40 motorists.
The Houston Fire Department rescued two people from a submerged car that flipped into a rain-filled ditch late Thursday, the Chronicle and other media reported.
Burke said that the brunt of the storm had pushed off eastward early Friday.
“The only good news is that the storm didn’t linger,” he said. “But Louisiana, Mississippi, western Alabama and southern Tennessee are all under the gun today.”
Flash flood warnings and flood watches were in effect for that swath of the southern United States from east Texas to Knoxsville, Tenn.
Danger persists from additional flooding along the southern Mississippi River and its tributaries, officials said.
More rain is in the forecast for the area this weekend, Burke said. (Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Peter Graff)