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Tropical Storm Don Moves Closer To Texas Coast

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MIAMI (AP) - Emergency managers along the Gulf Coast typically don’t welcome severe weather, but with more than 90 percent of Texas in extreme or exceptional drought, there’s barely concealed excitement for Tropical Storm Don’s arrival.

The couple inches of rain Don was expected to bring won’t be enough to break the state’s crushing drought, but any rain is welcome and many Texans are hoping it’s just the beginning.

“We’re looking forward to the rain,” said Nueces County Emergency Management Coordinator Danielle Hale. “We welcome that rain actually.”

Don was expected to make landfall early Saturday as a tropical storm with sustained winds of 55 to 60 mph. There are no plans to order evacuations along coastal areas, said Hale, whose county sits square in Don’s path.

Primitive beach camping would be restricted in county parks, but camping for recreational vehicles on the other side of the sand dunes should remain open, Hale said. County beaches would not be closed except where Mother Nature closed them, she said.

However, Padre Island National Seashore, south of Corpus Christi, closed its beaches and camping areas Thursday until the storm passes. The park’s recorded weather report Thursday closed with: “at least we’re going to get some rain. Hey, wonderful!”

The only people hoping Don misses them are the 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.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, located on the thin barrier island, announced Thursday it would close until Monday.

Don was in the central Gulf of Mexico Thursday evening, moving north-northwest at 15 mph with sustained winds of 45 mph. Tropical storm force winds were expected to begin hitting the coast around 7 p.m. Friday, with landfall following around midnight between Matagorda Bay to the north and Baffin Bay to the south.

Once ashore, Don was expected to move fairly quickly, making the threat of flooding small, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ashley Butts. Only about 1 to 2 inches of rain were expected along most of the path, with isolated amounts of up to 5 inches possible, especially along the northern side of the storm.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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