National

At least four dead in Houston after 'exceptionally' strong storm hits Texas: Mayor

HOUSTON — At least four people died Thursday after an "exceptionally" strong storm hit Houston, according to Mayor John Whitmire.

Wind gusts reached 78 mph in the area.

Preliminary investigations indicate falling trees caused two deaths and a fallen crane caused one, according to officials.

Urging residents to stay home, Whitmire said the city was in "recovery mode" and schools will be closed in the Houston area on Friday.

More than 788,000 customers are without power in Texas on Friday morning.

The intense winds came after a rare "high risk" warning for flash flooding was issued in Texas and Louisiana, with the states bracing for up to 9 inches of rain in 24 hours.

"The high risk area has seen over 600% of their normal rainfall for the past two weeks alone," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned, and the flash flooding could be life-threatening.

"High risk" days account for just 4% of days, but they are responsible for more than one-third of flooding deaths, according to the Weather Prediction Center.

The severe weather threat in Houston is now over, allowing residents to begin to clean up on Friday.

The severe weather threat has now moved east, with damaging winds and large hail possible from Louisiana to Georgia.

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