Allison Weakens and Downgraded to A Depression


Allison, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, weakened and was downgraded to a tropical depression Wednesday after pouring down as much as a foot of rain that flooded streets and highways.

Most of the storm's remaining rain had drifted into western and southern Louisiana, causing occasional street flooding in New Orleans. Flash flood watches were posted for parts of the state.

In Texas, flood warnings remained in effect for Galveston and Harris counties, including Houston, where rain fell at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour at the height of the storm on Tuesday. Tropical Storm Allison formed over the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and pushed across Galveston Island with 60 mph gusts, pounding the coast for several hours and spawning tornadoes that caused scattered damage. One twister touched down near Manvel, uprooting trees and damaged a home, the National Weather Service said.

As much as 11 inches of rain fell in Houston's southern suburbs, and a weather service employee recorded 12 inches of rain in about six hours at his home in the western Galveston County city of Santa Fe, said weather service meteorologist Dave Schwertz. Houston Fire Department workers were sent to rescue people stranded in their homes and vehicles by high water on the city's southeast side, said Deputy Chief Jack Williams. Streets were awash in the Houston suburb of Friendswood. ``I live in the west portion of the city, and I had 7.8 inches of rain since morning, and about 7.4 inches came since about 2 p.m.,'' Friendswood Mayor Harold Whitaker said late Tuesday.

At 5 a.m. EDT, Allison was 30 miles north of Houston and drifting toward the north at about 6 mph, the weather service said. Its sustained wind had fallen to 35 mph, with higher gusts possible.