"Many roadways are closed or are experiencing dangerous flooding," stated an announcement from Houston's Emergency Operations Center, which has been activated in response to the flooding. "Houston residents are asked to avoid travel at all costs this morning."
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Harris, Fort Bend and Wharton counties after 4 to 6 inches of rain fell in the region between 1:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Areas experiencing flooding include:
West University Place
Hunters Creek, Bunker Hill and Piney Point villages
Greater Fifth Ward
Spring Branch West
In addition, the following METRO bus lines were closed as of 9 a.m.: 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 14, 25, 27, 29, 30, 40, 41, 44, 49, 54, 56, 60, 63, 82, 85, 102, 161. Flooding had closed several METRO rail lines, but the transit agency announced all trains had resumed service at 8:30 a.m.
Conditions deteriorated so severely in the early morning hours that the weather service issued a tornado warning for northeast Harris County as thunder rumbled and lightning flashed in the sky. The weather service has not reported any tornado sightings, and the warning has since expired.
The flood warning lasts until 10:15 a.m., but rain is expected to continue through much of Wednesday and into Thursday.
The Houston Fire Department is currently conducting rescue operations in several parts of the city, including Bissonnet at Fondren, Holly Hall at Texas 288 and McGowen and 288.
Houston Community College announced classes would be delayed Wednesday morning, but has yet to say until when. Fort Bend ISD had a two-hour delay due to the flooding.
The weather service is urging drivers not to attempt to ford streets that are covered in water. The water may be deeper than it appears, and most flood deaths occur in vehicles.
Update, 11:15 a.m.: City public works engineers are prepared to set up barricades at 40 high water locations in anticipation of another 1 to 3 inches of rainfall Wednesday afternoon. The Houston Fire Department responded to more than 70 high water rescue calls Wednesday morning, mostly for drivers with submerged vehicles. Firefighters made one swift water rescue from the swollen White Oak Bayou at Houston Avenue.
So far, Houston emergency management officials have yet to receive any reports of serious injuries or deaths due to the flooding.
Update, 12:29 p.m.: Houston ISD announced after-school activities for Wednesday have been canceled because of the rainstorms.