A flood of problems: Abbott deploys state resources as High Plains sees heavy rains

Draw  rising to concerning levels Thursday near Country Club Road off interstate 27 in Canyon.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday deployed state emergency resources to the Panhandle after a series of storms, over the course of nearly three weeks, have caused severe flooding and significant damage to some areas.

Severe weather and additional rainfall is expected to continue throughout the region for the next week or so, bringing further relief to the region's improving drought conditions, but also the risk for additional flooding.

"With Northwest Texas experiencing significant flooding, the State of Texas is swiftly deploying flood response resources to help local emergency officials keep Texans safe," Abbott said in a news release. "Texans are urged to regularly monitor weather and driving conditions and to forgo travel in impacted areas over the next several days as flash flood threats continue. Please continue to heed the guidance of local and emergency officials to protect yourselves and your loved ones. Turn around, don't drown. I thank all of our emergency personnel who continue to protect our communities during these storms."

Well-above average rainfall in May and so far in June has boosted area lakes, with Lake Alan Henry rising from 70 percent to more than 90 percent full and Lake Meredith up to 39 percent from 29 percent a month ago. But it's also brought widespread flooding on area roadways and prompted evacuations around the rising Canadian River in the Panhandle.

From the Mexico border to the Texas-Oklahoma Panhandle, residents braced themselves as severe weather moved through the region Friday. The area saw a brief respite Saturday, with fewer storms across the High Plains. But storm chances were expected to pick back up Sunday going into the week, according to the National Weather Service.

Two shoppers braved the rain to enter the Market Street grocery store at 50th and Indiana in Lubbock, Friday, June 2, 2023.

In addition to observed tornadoes near Seminole and Fort Stockton, much of the region saw widespread heavy rainfall, some areas of flash flooding, hail and winds of up to 80 mph.

After reaching the area in the early afternoon, the storms moved eastward past the South Plains and Caprock by sunset, while heavy rainfall was expected to continue in the Rolling Plains through midnight.

Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport recorded 0.57 of an inch on Friday, according to the weather service. That brought the city to 6.97 inches for the year - just above the year-to-date average of 6.71. Other notable rainfall totals for Friday include 1.28 inches at Abernathy, 2.87 inches at Andrews and 1.11 inches at Plains. Amarillo saw 7.36 inches in May alone - about 5 inches above average.

Much of the region is already waterlogged and under flood disasters after the region has accumulated between 300% to 600% more rain than typical this time of year, the forecaster said, adding that Friday's event brought an additional 3 to 4 inches of rain per hour.

A shopper braved the rain to carry some groceries bought at the Market Street grocery store at 50th Street and Indiana Avenue, Friday, June 2, 2023.

Earlier this week, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner declared a local state of disaster for northern and northwestern Potter County, which has received record-breaking rainfall since May 18.

Additionally, the Potter County Sheriff's Office issued a warning that urged residents to not float the Canadian River, which is seeing swift water speeds, a "very strong flow" and a "very dangerous" undercurrent. The sheriff's office also noted that the water spreads closer to the lake and becomes a "marsh type area with extreme quick sand."

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Heavy rain brings beneficial moisture, severe risk to high plains