As temperatures warm and planting wraps up across the West and Southwest, young crops are either emerging or reaching various stages of early growth just as an El Nino driven winter storm clashed with an exceptionally powerful moist Gulf of Mexico inflow that brought record snows to Colorado and heavy rains and sporadic tornadoes across Texas and Oklahoma Sunday and into early Monday bringing death and damage across a wide area.
In Southeastern parts of Texas and along the Texas coast, the heaviest rains—more than 17 inches—have fallen in Harris County where farms and ranch homes were filled with water, and recently planted cash crops were damaged or destroyed Monday. National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters called one-day rain totals historic.
In metro Houston, flood waters inundated over a thousand homes and claimed the lives of at least six people. That number was expected to rise as firefighters reached new areas across the city as flood waters began to recede early Tuesday. Rescuers were also busy assisting stranded motorists all across the city.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for several counties. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also urged residents to stay home, citing the severe floods as too dangerous to navigate.
In northern reaches of the state, dozens who live near the Brazos River in Parker County were rescued from water rising into their homes Monday. Water being released from Possum Kingdom Lake caused the river to rise rapidly, eventually cresting at 26 feet. Residents near Possum Kingdom Lake and south of Weatherford were also forced to evacuate, according to law enforcement officials.
In Central Texas, just west of Austin, Highland Lakes residents in Marble Falls were advised to watch for rising flood water on creeks and streams that feed the Highland Lakes, and large areas of the Texas Hill Country reported flooding on the Guadalupe and Pedernales rivers.
Homes near Wiley, Texas, were heavily damaged Monday by softball-sized hail, and across Mid-Western wheat fields homeowners who rushed to cover roofs with large tarps were reporting heavy rain pouring into their homes from Tuesday's heavy storms.
Rains also spread north into Oklahoma and Kansas, dropping significant rains on wheat, mostly considered beneficial for significantly drought-stressed Mid-West wheat.
Meanwhile, a significant winter storm assaulted the mountainous West over the weekend and dumped exceptionally heavy snow on the Rockies across Colorado. Denver received nearly 52 inches of fresh snow just west of Pineclife with an incredible 49 inches of fresh snow near Golden by Sunday. More than 33 inches of a fresh snow fell over parts of Wyoming with the Northern New Mexico mountains receiving nearly a foot of snow by Sunday afternoon.
The threat of a tornado outbreak also threatened parts of Texas and the Deep South early Tuesday prompting farmers to suspend planting operations across wide areas across the Southwest and Southeast early this week.