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article imageTropical Storm Don nears the Texas coast, landfall by morning

By Kim I. Hartman     Jul 29, 2011 in World
Corpus Christi - Tropical Storm Don is expected to make landfall late Friday night through early Saturday morning near Corpus Christi, Texas. It is the fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season and the first to hit Texas this year.
A tropical storm warning was issued Thursday from Port Aransas to Port O'Connor, with a tropical storm watch in effect for the Texas coast, from San Luis Pass southward to the mouth of the Rio Grande River.
The storm is expected to bring some much needed rain through the southern and coastal regions of Texas with high winds, isolated tornadoes, heavy rains and flooding projected along the path of the storm.
Tropical Storm Don has maximum sustained winds of 50mph with gusts up to 65mph and is not expected to be upgraded to a hurricane, according to the National Weather Service. Tropical storm wind speeds range from 39mph to 74mph.
"The storm is capable of strengthening to maybe 55, 65 mph winds before it makes landfall, probably around midnight Friday," KPRC Local chief meteorologist Frank Billingsley said."
Don is expected to make landfall from Corpus Christi southward to Mexico, leaving much of drought stricken Texas off the charts for expected rainfall totals from the storm. Three inches of rain is forecast along the storm track with isolated areas receiving up to 7 inches of much needed precipitation.
Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said Tropical Storm Don is "not potent enough to break the ongoing Texas drought. It’s been so dry in Texas for so long, this one storm will be a drop in an empty bucket.”
According to the Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University:
"Don is a fairly small storm at this point. The majority of the state will probably receive little or no rainfall. The drought is going to continue. The lucky areas, if they receive 2″ to 5″ of rainfall, will be picking up one or two months’ worth of precipitation. That’s not enough to end the drought, but it will help reduce irrigation demands and perhaps let struggling ranchers produce another cutting of hay.”
MSNBC reports, "Shell Oil, Apache and Anadarko Petroleum have shut oil wells down in the Gulf of Mexico and evacuated all employees from oil and gas production platforms." Refineries along the Gulf Coast are keeping a watchful eye on the storm as it approaches the Texas Coast. On Thursday ExxonMobil began evacuation of all nonessential personnel from its offshore facilities that are situated in the path of storm.
This infrared image of Tropical Storm Don from the GOES-13 satellite at 1101 UTC (7:01 a.m. EDT) on ...
This infrared image of Tropical Storm Don from the GOES-13 satellite at 1101 UTC (7:01 a.m. EDT) on July 28 shows a small storm that appears somewhat disorganized, near the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
NASA
The Rio Grande Valley is expected to receive the brunt of the rains from the tropical storm which is currently situated 290 miles from land as of 8am Friday morning, bringing with it cooler temperatures for southern Texas, reports the Weather Channel. The storm is picking up speed and moving north by northwest.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples told CNN, the cotton harvest is in full swing in the same area as the projected path of Tropical Storm Don. "We needed the rain during the growing season and we're getting it during harvesting -- it's the complete reverse here," he said.
"Along the Gulf Coast they're harvesting cotton and it could add insult to injury because the rain lowers the quality and makes harvesting difficult," Staples said. "All of this results in higher prices to the consumer because our supplies will be more limited."
Hurricane forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have predicted an active season for storms this year. Accuweather.com reports 15 named tropical storms are expected with eight of them attaining hurricane status. Four of these eight hurricanes are anticipated to be major storms rated Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
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