Alabama Farmers Welcome Rains From Remnants of Barry

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Remnants of Tropical Storm Barry continued dumping heavy rains on Alabama Tuesday, but the storm that knocked down tree limbs and power lines when it whipped across the Gulf Coast had mostly dissipated.

Barry caused little destruction on its westward march and was even a welcome relief for many farmers struggling to raise crops in drought-stricken fields. About 2 inches of rain fell in Alabama's peanut-growing region around Headland, according to Larry Wells, superintendent of the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center.

"I don't know how long it takes to break a drought, but we're in a lot better shape than we were last year," Wells said. "It was a nice rain event and a good start for August."

Barry neared hurricane strength as its eye crossed the Florida coast and Alabama on Monday but it's maximum sustained wind had dropped from nearly 65 mph to 30 mph and it was downgraded to a tropical depression.

The system downed trees and power lines, blacking out more than 37,000 of Gulf Power Co.'s 182,000 Florida customers. But by Monday evening, power had been restored to 98 percent of the homes and businesses. Scattered outages remained in Destin, Fort Walton Beach and the Panama City area.

The center of what was left of Barry was centered southwest of Tuscaloosa near the Alabama-Mississippi line, according to the National Weather Service. Heavy showers were reported in the Birmingham area and in west Alabama.

For the second time in a week, Barry forced the postponement of an 'N Sync concert. As in Miami on Aug. 2, a concert planned for Tuesday night at a Birmingham football stadium was canceled because the storm prevented workers from setting up the elaborate set, lights and sound gear for the group.

Although music fans were disappointed, water managers watched rain gauges rise to comfortable levels.

"No one that I've talked to is regretting that we had a tropical storm," said Charles Mitchell, a soils expert at Auburn University.