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High winds, hail and heavy rain hit the Austin area, causing flight delays

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Julia Reihs
/
KUT

High winds are passing through much of the Austin area Friday night, with the possibility of damaging hail and tornadoes.

The National Weather Service says Travis and Williamson counties could see wind speeds in excess of 60 mph, along with hail and an isolated chance of tornadoes, between 6 and 10 p.m. Friday. The NWS says areas northeast of Austin and Georgetown face the highest risk for severe winds and possible tornadoes. As a result of the storm, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily grounded departing and arriving flights at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, but that order was lifted shortly before 9:30 p.m.

Forecasters say the risk of flooding is low. Severe thunderstorms rolled into the Austin area along the I-35 corridor just before 7 p.m. The National Weather Service expects storms to form quickly and move eastward Friday night after 8.

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National Weather Service
A view of the National Weather Service radar as of 6:45 p.m. on Friday.

The NWS says "an isolated tornado or two" is possible, though less likely. The service initially forecast a tornado risk for parts of Austin and Georgetown, but it revised its forecast, lowering the risk assessment for the Austin area from level 3 to level 2 out of a five-tier system.

Despite the decreased tornado risk, NWS meteorologist Andrew Quigley says, much of Central Texas is still in for some severe weather.

"The risk is still there," he said. "There is still that chance along the front, and with any of those storms we could see some strong to severe weather. The primary concern would be damaging straight-line winds to 60 miles an hour. But there is also a chance of an isolated tornado and isolated large hailstone[s] ... up to a quarter-size."

"Over the last 48 hours has been a pretty consistent signal that it'll be somewhere near the I-35 corridor. Whether it is just to the west or just to the east or right on top of, we don't quite know yet," Quigley said. "So that's just going to be resolved through continuing to monitor the environment this afternoon."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at aweber@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.