Tropical Storm Bill hits Texas coast

HOUSTON - Tropical Storm Bill punched the Texas coast with heavy rains and strong winds on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said, just three weeks after floods killed about 30 people in the state.

HOUSTON  - Tropical Storm Bill punched the  Texas coast  with heavy rains and strong winds on Tuesday, the  National Weather Service  said, just three weeks after floods killed about 30 people in the state. The second named tropical storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season made landfall near Matagorda, a sportfishing town near the  South Texas  Nuclear Generating Station in Bay City, a coastal nuclear power plant.

Spokesman Buddy Eller said the plant had prepared for the storm and operations were normal with full staffing.

Output from oil platforms in the  Gulf of Mexico , which pumps about a fifth of all domestic crude, was not affected although a few companies evacuated some workers.

Vessel traffic was halted in the  Houston  Ship Channel, the biggest U.S. petrochemical port, and ports in Galveston and  Texas City , officials said.

Flash  flood watches were in effect for  central Texas  and the  Houston  area, regions where floods over the Memorial Day  weekend late last month swept over thousands of vehicles and damaged homes.


The storm was projected to churn through  central Texas  toward  Austin  and  Dallas , though tropical storm-force winds near 60 miles per hour (95 km) extended 150 miles (241 km) from the center.

Heavy rain had already drenched parts of  Texas  over the weekend, pushing high rivers closer to overflowing their banks. The  National Hurricane Center  said the storm was expected to weaken into a tropical depression overnight, but it could bring up to 8 inches of rain to  eastern Texas  and  Oklahoma  and up to 4 inches to  Arkansas  and  southern Missouri .

Around  Houston , the fourth-largest U.S. city, 10 inches or more of rain could fall by Thursday. School districts in and around  Houston  suspended summer classes, and 135 flights were canceled at the two airports serving the city, according to tracking service

Voluntary evacuations were called for some low-lying areas south of  Houston .

But officials did not expect flooding to reach  Memorial Day -levels, which put highways under water.

Flooding could snarl work in  Texas  oilfields, but producers including EOG Resources and ConocoPhillips said operations were normal.

More than 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity and half of natural gas processing capacity sits along the  U.S. Gulf Coast .

Onshore, LyondellBasell deployed sandbags at its refining and chemical facilities. Refiner Phillips 66 said operations had no weather impacts.

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