Austin flooding brought on by close to 15 inches of overnight rain has washed out roads and put Halloween in jeopardy for the Texas capital.
A wave of powerful storms moved across central Texas on Thursday, producing torrential downpours that caused flooding and even evacuations in low-lying areas. Jon Zeitler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Austin-San Antonio, said some parts of the state saw more than a foot of rain fall in the overnight storms.
The storms were part of a gigantic weather system expected to produce everything from severe thunderstorms to tornadoes, stretching all the way to the Great Lakes.
The Austin flooding left city officials scrambling to figure out what to do for Halloween and the crowds of children expected to be out trick-or-treating.
"Postponing is not a bad idea. It would be kind of irresponsible to say go ahead and go outside," said Trevor Boucher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Nashville, Tennessee.
It would not be an unprecedented move. In recent years, extreme weather has led other municipalities calling off trick-or-treating. In some areas of the east coast, cities and towns have gone two consecutive years without celebrating Halloween after a surprise blizzard in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Trick-or-treating was far from the only concern in Austin and across central Texas. Hundreds of homes in Travis County were affected by floodwaters, and shelters have been filling up with people displaced by the storms.
Officials believe the full effect of the storm is still unknown.
"Those [evacuation] numbers are on the low side because we're doing so much in so many areas that isn't being reported," Austin Fire Battalion Chief Thayer Smith said.
Several people were also rescued from the fast-rising floodwater, including a pregnant woman who officials said lives in a "notorious flood area.'
The Austin flooding is already so bad that officials say it could be the worst in the city's history.