Friday, July 29, 2011

Don unlikely to bring relief to North Texas (Photos-Video)

Tropical Storm Don's new name is just about right.
"As of a few minutes ago, Don became a tropical depression," Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said shortly before 10 p.m. Friday.

Depressing, indeed. North Texans were hoping for at least a little cloud cover today that might bring the triple-digit temperatures down a bit.
No such luck, Moore said.
The high forecast for today is 101, which would keep the streak of consecutive triple-digit days going. (Friday got us to 28 straight days.) And the weather service is predicting only a slight chance of rain today, which really means no chance.
About 10 p.m., Don moved inland near Baffin Bay, about 40 miles south of Corpus Christi with maximum winds of 35 mph. All storm warnings were canceled, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
At least South Texas could still look forward to a few inches of precious rain.
The historic King Ranch covers a large part of the drought-stricken territory where Don was headed.
The storm won't bring all the rain that's needed but "as far as we're concerned, we're anticipating something and look forward to it," said Dave Delaney, King Ranch's vice president and general manager. "Maybe it's the start of something."
On Friday afternoon, lightning flashed in the distance above a darkening Gulf, but the beach remained packed on Padre Island. Surfers carried boards to the water, and children frolicked in sand. People on parasails glided behind boats in the Laguna Madre. Traffic backed up across the causeway connecting Padre Island to the mainland, but it appeared to be due more to construction than the volume of traffic. No one appeared to be boarding up windows or taking other precautions associated with stronger storms.
The Padre Island National Seashore closed its beaches late Thursday. Nueces County, where Corpus Christi is located, restricted primitive camping on its beaches, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Del Mar College and the University of Texas-Brownsville closed their campuses.
But an annual fishing tournament in Port Mansfield, north of Brownsville, began Friday as scheduled. The offshore division was canceled, but fishermen still cast their lines closer to shore. A decision about today's fishing had not been made early Friday.
The only people hoping Don would miss them were cotton farmers in the midst of harvesting their crop with two weeks to go, said Rogelio Mercado, Texas AgriLife extension agent for Jim Wells County.
"All in all, everyone would welcome a good rain," Mercado said, but strong winds could make a mess of the cotton harvest. As long as the cotton bolls aren't knocked over, a couple of sunny days after the storm should allow the harvest to continue. Corn and sorghum have already been collected, he said.
In North Texas, Moore said the high for Sunday is forecast to be 102. If it gets to even 100, that will mean 30 consecutive triple-digit days, lofting 2011 into the No. 2 spot. But, Moore said, "We have a long way to go" to No. 1, which is 42 consecutive days set in 1980.
Unfortunately, the traditionally hottest month of August begins next week. Highs are expected to top 100 all week with "no rain in sight," Moore said.
At its height, Don forced the shutdown of more than 11.9 percent of oil production and 6.2 percent of gas output from the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said Friday. Personnel were evacuated from 56 oil and gas platforms and four rigs in the Gulf.

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