East Texas bracing for possible flooding, winter weather

by Staff reports

TYLER – TxDOT crews are getting ahead of the winter storm forecast for East Texas by preparing roadways around the eight-county district for potentially icy and flood conditions. Bridges and other roadway areas susceptible to wind and ice have been pre-treated.

According to National Weather Service – Shreveport, East Texas and outlying areas will see periods of showers and a few embedded thunderstorms before shifting to a warm front this afternoon and evening.

Locally heavy rainfall is possible, with amounts of one to three inches possible, in addition to the one to three inches that has fallen since Wednesday, resulting in possible flash flooding, according to NWS.

A flood warning was issued at 10:17 a.m. for the Neches River near Neches, affecting Cherokee, Houston and Anderson counties. The warning is from late tonight until further notice, with minor flooding forecast as the Neches is expected to rise above flood stage late New Years Eve and continue rising to a crest of 13.6 feet by Tuesday morning. Additional rises are possible thereafter, the report added.

Residents are advised to move livestock and equipment to higher ground away from the river.

Additionally, a flash flood watch – in which conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding – continues through this evening for Cherokee County and surrounding areas, with rainfall totals of three to 6 inches expected, possibly causing flooding of creeks, streams and rivers, as well as poor drainage areas, according to NWS.

Meanwhile, TxDOT officials said that I-20 and other major roadways have been pre-treated with a brine solution consisting of salt and water designed to prevent ice and snow from sticking to surfaces. The process is a fast-moving mobile operation with minimal impacts to traffic. The district is also preparing for potential flooding and will be monitoring areas of concern throughout the life of the storm, according to TxDOT officials.

TxDOT personnel have readied equipment and supplies and will respond as needed to ensure roadways remain open and safe for travel when possible.

Here are some safe driving tips should wintry conditions set in:

- Be extra cautious on bridges, overpasses, ramps, turns and shaded areas that usually freeze first.

- Reduce speed and allow extra time to reach destinations.

- Increase the following distance between you and other vehicles.

- If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes and steer into the direction of skid.

- Stay back at least 200 feet from vehicles treating roadways, and move over for emergency vehicles.

- Be patient. Your trip time could increase when adverse weather conditions exist.

- Remain in your vehicle. If stranded, please call 911 to alert emergency services.

- Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions warrant.

In case of flooding, remember flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in Texas. If you encounter a flooded road, "Turn Around, Don't Drown."

- Never walk, swim, or drive through still or moving flood waters. The water may be hiding dangers such as debris, tree branches, power lines, or damage to the road. As little as six inches of fast-moving water can cause motorists to lose control of their vehicle, even a pickup truck or SUV.

- Stay informed about weather conditions when you are driving.

- Be especially careful driving at night when it can be harder to see flood dangers.

- If your vehicle stalls in deep water, leave it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely

Road closures and other conditions are posted and updated as necessary at DriveTexas.org. Get statewide road conditions by calling 800-452-9292.