Tropical system leaves little rain in dry Texas

Associated Press
Donny and Mary Jones walk down a pier in the rain as Tropical Storm Don approaches the Texas Gulf Coast Friday, July 29, 2011, in Port Mansfield, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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McALLEN, Texas (AP) — The storm that many had hoped would bring some relief to parched areas of South Texas passed Saturday after dropping less than an inch of rain — good news only for the cotton farmers who were ready to resume their harvest.

The National Hurricane Center said its 4 a.m. CDT advisory on what was once known as Tropical Storm Don would be its last as the remnants passed into northern Mexico. Don had failed to live up to even low expectations by tropical storm standards and was downgraded earlier to a tropical depression.

"There's really not much left of it," said Barry Goldsmith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville. "It's a done deal."

With dry air falling in behind Don, a hot and sunny weekend was forecast with only a chance of showers. "That great beach weather we had last week is coming right back," Goldsmith said.

Most of Texas has been suffering an extreme drought, and Don was seen as South Texas' best hope for widespread rain in months. But totals from various sites in the Rio Grande Valley and coastal Willacy County failed to rise to even an inch.

The storm was a disappointment for ranchers who have been selling off cattle at a rapid clip because their pastures are barren.

But it was a huge relief for cotton growers, who are in the middle of their harvest. Double the amount of cotton was planted this year in the state's four southernmost counties, and the fields along many rural roads are still dotted with white bolls. The area got the most rain from Don, but it still wasn't much.

"I think it was pretty much a non-event," said Sally Ross at the Ross Gin Company in Mercedes on Saturday morning. They received less than one-half inch of rain at the gin. Some of their truckers reported showers as they brought the fluffy white bales to the gin Friday, but nothing intense.

"The wind blows, and the sun's out, they may be able to get back in the field in a day or two," Ross said.

Don was never predicted to be a punishing storm, but by the time it neared the Texas coast Friday evening the little anxiousness there had been, evaporated.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Don to a depression at 10 p.m. as what remained of it came ashore over sparsely populated ranch lands near Baffin Bay. That advisory also ended all tropical storm warnings along the Texas coast.

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