HOUSTON It was bright and it was loud in the skies over Houston Saturday night. For many drivers, the springtime storm took them completely by surprise.

At State Highway 288 and I-610, the heavy rain had nowhere to go and shut down ramps in all directions.

The northbound lane looked more like a river. Along 610, there was a sea of headlights.

Priscilla Rojas stood next to her car and waited. She was late for her job at the Texas Medical Center.

It s bad, it s really bad, she said.

Michael Baldwin was late for a party in Pearland.

I thought it was a wreck or something, he said. Like many drivers, he was surprised to learn the rain was the reason for the delay.

He said he had been waiting in traffic for more than two hours.

John Engeo said he just wanted to get home to see his family. He rode out the storm under a bank awning and headed back onto the road when he hoped it was clear.

He, too, was stuck.

Everywhere you look the streets are flooded, he said. I mean everywhere I was going there was high water.

Elsewhere, it did not take a flood to cause headaches. In places such as Pasadena, the power was out and traffic lights went dark.

Many drivers waited under bridges to avoid hail damage to their cars, wishing perhaps they had just stayed at home.

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