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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2007
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Tropical system has little impact

From staff, AP reports

BILOXI, Miss. — After preparing for what could've been the area's first tropical rattle since Hurricane Katrina two years ago, Gulf coast residents breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The tropical depression moved ashore Friday night near Fort Walton Beach, Fla., without strengthening into a tropical storm.

National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Wagner said coastal Mississippi could expect winds of up to 25 mph — about the equivalent of a strong thunderstorm.

"Everybody's dodging (the proverbial bullet) right now," said Bob Wagner, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Slidell, La.

While the depression won't directly impact the Tennessee Valley, the system was already infusing the parched area with much-needed moisture, said Brian Carcione, a weather service meteorologist in Huntsville.

"It's expected to continue drifting west," Carcione said, "so the rains directly associated with the storm will only affect the Gulf Coast. We have gotten a little additional moisture in the area as a result of the system. If you walk outside, it feels more humid. That will play a role in the next couple of days."

Carcione said the Valley will enter a pattern of summer-like weather with highs in the mid- to upper-80s and scattered afternoon thunderstorms that will continue into early next week.

A 20 to 30 percent chance of rain forecast for the next few days may improve depending upon a cold front moving into the area later in the week, Carcione said.

Friday afternoon, state Forester Linda Casey lifted the fire alert for the remaining 17 counties in northwest Alabama.

The affected counties include Limestone, Lawrence and Morgan.

The state Department of Environmental Management, however, will still restrict burning in Lawrence and Morgan counties. But some prescribed burning will be allowed for forestry or agricultural purposes.

Throughout Friday, Mississippi emergency officials had prepared for a possible tropical storm. Thousands of people are still living in government-issued trailers that they got after Katrina left a wide swath of destruction on Aug. 29, 2005.

Shelters were opened Friday, and the easternmost of the state's three coastal counties ordered mandatory evacuations for people living in mobile homes or travel trailers or for those living in low-lying areas. Evacuations were recommended, but not mandatory, for those groups of people in the other coastal counties in the state.

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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