HOUSTON – Ivan's second foray into the United States came with little wind but plenty of the rain that became the three-week-old system's calling card as it raked the Caribbean and eastern United States, while Floridians braced for another possible pounding as Hurricane Jeanne (search) appeared to be gearing up for a weekend landing.
After looping into the Atlantic and back into the Gulf of Mexico following its initial strike on the Alabama-Florida coast as a hurricane last week, Tropical Storm Ivan (search) washed ashore near the Texas-Louisiana line Thursday night, bringing heavy rain to both sides of the border.
While the storm was expected to dissipate as it drifts into Texas this weekend, its rains are expected to persist and cause problems, and flood-prone Houston is in its projected path.
"Friday night through Saturday morning, if you run a line through Galveston, Houston and College Station, that area probably is really going to get pounded," said National Weather Service (search) meteorologist Kent Prochazka.
Jefferson County received between 3 and 3.5 inches of rain over four hours, but no flooding problems were immediately reported.
Louisiana was also spared any major problems.
"It's just kind of like a cold front," Cameron Parish Emergency Preparedness Director Freddie Richard Jr. said late Thursday. "We're just getting some rain and a little bit of wind."
Florida residents also had that oh-no-not-again feeling as 105-mph Hurricane Jeanne appeared to be zeroing in this weekend for what would be the state's fourth thrashing this season.
Jeanne has already been blamed for 1,070 flooding deaths in Haiti. At 5 a.m. EDT, Jeanne was centered about 535 miles east of Miami and moving west at 8 mph, and was expected to reach Florida by Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It had top sustained winds of 100 mph, down about 5 mph from a day earlier.
Some projections showed the storm hitting central Florida and then moving up the coast to North Carolina by Tuesday.
The National Hurricane Center said a hurricane watch likely would be issued for portions of the Florida East coast on Friday morning.
Maximum sustained winds were about 105 mph, with some strengthening possible over the next day or two.
"It's time for Floridians to seriously pay attention," said Eric Blake, a meteorologist at the hurricane center.
Girding for the storm, Kennedy Space Center director James Kennedy ordered the base closed to all non-essential personnel on Friday. NASA's spaceport is still trying to repair damage caused by Frances and Charley.
In all, four tropical weather systems were churning Thursday, with the most immediate threat coming from Ivan, which will not seem to go away after causing 70 deaths in the Caribbean and 60 more when the rain-generating monster plowed through the South last week.
Hurricane Ivan broke up after hitting the United States, but a piece of it spun back and reformed in the Gulf of Mexico as a minimal tropical storm.
Ivan was expected to make a button-hook turn and sit over Houston and the rest of southeastern Texas through the weekend, bringing 4 to 10 inches of rain and the threat of flooding.
As of 5 a.m. EDT Friday, Ivan had been downgraded to a tropical depression and continued to weaken. Its center was about 35 miles northwest of Port Arthur with maximum sustained winds near 30 mph.
The last time the Houston area saw a tropical storm was June 2001, when Allison hit and then looped back, dropping 36 inches of rain, killing 22 people and paralyzing the nation's fourth-largest city. Unlike then, when the ground already was saturated with prior rains, southeast Texas has been dry lately and drainage capability should be at its peak.
Meanwhile, 120-mph Hurricane Karl stayed on an open-ocean course that threatened only ships, while tropical depression Lisa moved slowly far out in the Atlantic.
The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.