McALLEN, Texas – Days of torrential rain have led to widespread flooding in southeastern Texas, the state's worst floods since Hurricane Harvey last year.
Since Tuesday, 5 to 10 inches of rain has fallen along the Texas coast from the border to around 125 miles south of Houston, with more than 15 inches in some areas, the National Weather Service said.
"The latest Texas rainfall totals are astounding," said Weather Channel meteorologist Greg Diamond.
In McAllen, Texas, intense rainstorms caused widespread flooding for a second day, stranding vehicles in intersections and low-lying parking lots. The small city near the border with Mexico has been in the spotlight this week amid global outrage over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy for criminally charging immigrants who try to enter the U.S. illegally.
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The U.S. Border Patrol's McAllen Station is the busiest for apprehending and detaining immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally, and protests have erupted around the area in recent days.
At the Doubletree Hotel near McAllen's airport – one of the tallest buildings in the area – several apparent lightning strikes disabled elevators and set off fire alarms while water leaked through the atrium nine stories above.
City officials urged drivers to stay off the roads, while young men in big pickups gunned their way through puddles and flooded intersections.
In coffee shops and restaurants, a chorus of cellphones sounded each time the weather service issued a new flash flood warning.
Rain also sparked flooding this week in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area. Chris Jenkins' home in Orange County flooded with about 6 inches of water. He and his family had moved back into the home in March after it flooded during Harvey.
"Just coming and seeing everything floating on the floor, nothing can prepare you for it," Jenkins told KHOU.
The rainfall was fueled by an upper-level low-pressure system parked over Texas, the Weather Channel said. The system is interacting with widespread tropical moisture, leading to the numerous showers and thunderstorms.
The weather service said the slow-moving storm is expected to move Thursday. Downpours are likely to become much more spotty in nature over southeastern Texas to end the week, AccuWeather said.