Severe Storm System Looms Over Wide Swath of US as Rain, Floods - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Severe Storm System Looms Over Wide Swath of US as Rain, Floods Lash Texas

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(NBC News) -- A ferocious storm system was hurtling from Texas to the northeast early Thursday, threatening to lash a long arm of the U.S. with buckets of rain and high winds as officials in three states postponed trick-or-treating to Friday.

Meteorologists warned people in the Ohio Valley, the lower Mississippi Valley and western Gulf Coast to brace for harsh gusts of wind, hail and even tornadoes — a scary forecast just in time for Halloween revelry.

Trick-or-treating has been pushed to Friday in scores of cities in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio — states expected to bear the brunt of the severe storm system, according Weather.com.

The trouble was already brewing near Austin, Texas, early Thursday, where heavy train triggered flash floods, forcing scores of people from their homes amid evacuation advisories and prompting helicopter rescues, officials said.

Some areas surrounding the city were slammed by as much as 15 inches of rain, according to Austin-Travis County's Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Meanwhile, emergency crews staged 15 water rescues across Austin and Travis counties throughout the early morning, EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger said.

At 6 a.m. (7 a.m. ET), an EMS team saved a pregnant woman cut off by two low-water crossings who had gone into labor, according to NBC affiliate KXAN in Austin.

There was no reported deaths and only minor injuries early Thursday, although Hassinger said there were reports from neighboring Hays and Comal Counties of people calling for help who were trapped in vehicles or clinging to trees.

The Texas Department for Public Safety said there were no firm numbers yet for the four worst affected counties of Williamson, Hays, Comel and Travis, but that there were at least 20 homes affected in Hutto, a town of more than 18,000 in Williamson County.

Austin Energy reported upwards of 12,000 customers without electric power Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press, while Wimberley Independent School District called off classes due to "extreme weather conditions," according to its website. Schools in nearby San Marcos and Lockhart also cancelled classes amid the nasty weather and snarled traffic, the wire service reported.

The worst of the rain is over for the region, with the storm moving from west to east, according to the department.

"It will have hopefully abated by about 2 p.m. this afternoon," a data collector at the department said. "But the run-off is what we worry about – there's always that danger."

As the massive weather system barrels eastward, officials are warning people in the Midwest and Northeast to take precautions ahead of the storm.

The Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that locals should stay away from big trees and clear their sidewalks so any flooding can cut a clear path.

"You never know what could happen," Gary Coons of Homeland Security told NBC affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis.

Heavy rain may pound the Northeast on Friday, with high wind watches posted for the Great Lakes as well as areas of southern New England and Long Island, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials have warned coastal residents to brace for possible power outages as well as felled trees and power lines, according to Weather.com.

And the I-95 corridor may be clogged Friday amid hard rain and monster winds from Boston to New York City and Philadelphia.

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