HARLINGEN, Texas – Texans eased up their storm readiness Tuesday as a weakened Hurricane Dean blew westward across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on a path that was expected to bring nothing more than higher surf to the state.
The top official for Texas' southernmost county, Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, said he would release Texas National Guard soldiers and lift both a mandatory evacuation of trailers and recreational vehicles on vulnerable South Padre Island and a countywide voluntary evacuation.
• PHOTO ESSAY: Hurricane Dean
In neighboring Hidalgo County, Judge J.D. Salinas said he planned to officially deactivate National Guard and other state resources. More than 500 buses were being released from standby for evacuations that were never ordered.
Dean struck land early Tuesday just north of the Mexico-Belize border as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained wind of nearly 165 mph.
It quickly lost some of that wind speed over land, but Dean was still the third most intense hurricane to make landfall since record keeping began in the 1850s, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday.
Dean was moving west at 20 mph, expected to cross the peninsula back into the Gulf of Mexico during the afternoon and then make a second landfall north of Veracruz, Mexico, on Wednesday.
Texas won't even get rain from Dean's outermost bands and there is no risk of significant flooding, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Straub in Brownsville.
Texas had been especially edgy about the hurricane because large parts of the state were still saturated from flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin.
The National Guard and search-and-rescue teams had been mobilized in case of the worst, shelters were set up in 28 communities, and as many as 80,000 barrels of gasoline were shipped to Rio Grande Valley gas stations.
The state sent six C-130 aircraft to Cameron County in case any critically ill patients needed to be evacuated from hospitals, and about 3,000 buses were on standby for possible evacuations.