Thanksgiving Floods and Storms Leave 14 Dead in Texas and Kansas; Oklahoma Declares Disaster

At least 14 deaths have been reported in Texas and Kansas after a band of slow moving storms brought floods and freezing rain to wide areas of southern and central USA.

The severe weather began on Thursday, 26 November 2015, America’s Thanksgiving Day. Northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas were all severely affected. Eight of the deaths occurred in Texas, the other 6 in Kansas.

In Oklahoma, around 70,000 homes and businesses were without power at one point over the weekend. Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, has declared a state of emergency in all 77 counties of the state. The declaration will allow state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief and preparedness and is the first step toward possible asking for federal assistance.

Further flooding is threatening parts of north Texas and Arkansas as river levels remain high after several days of rain. The Trinity and Brazos rivers are thought to be at the highest risk of overflowing. Levels of the Trinity crested at Dallas on Sunday 29 November 2015, but flooding is still a risk for areas further down river.

At least 7 locations in Texas recorded around 7 inches (178mm) or more of rain between the start of the storms on Thursday and early Sunday morning, 29 November 2015. Associated Press report that Texas authorities placed the state’s record year-to-date rainfall total at 142 cm.

rainfall totals texas november thanksgiving storm
Image: NWS Fort Worth

As the total yearly rainfall figure suggests, Texas has endured a year of major floods. Just a few days ago, President Obama signed a disaster declaration for 15 counties in Texas for damage caused by the late October flooding and storms.

In a recent study, Arkansas was considered one of the US states least prepared for any increase in inland flooding risk posed by a changing climate. The state of Texas wasn’t assessed for inland flooding dangers, despite being one of the hardest hit by floods in recent years.

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