HIGH ISLAND, Texas – Making an encore appearance in the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm, Ivan swirled toward the Texas coast Thursday with a potential for up to 10 inches of rain over the weekend.
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.
"We've just reached some level of normalcy and here it comes again. I've never seen anything like this," said an exasperated Margaret McFarlane of Greenacres, Fla., who was without power for 12 days after Hurricane Frances (search). She was already stocking up on water, food and other supplies in preparation for Jeanne.
In all, four tropical weather systems were churning Thursday, with the most immediate threat coming from the 22-day-old Ivan, which will not seem to go away after causing 70 deaths in the Caribbean and 60 more when it plowed into the Gulf Coast and through the South last week.
Hurricane Ivan (search) broke up after hitting the United States, but a piece of it spun back and reformed in the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm that struck along the Texas-Louisiana line Thursday with a potential for up to 10 inches of rain over the weekend.
"It's just kind of like a cold front," said Freddie Richard Jr., emergency preparedness director in Louisiana's Cameron Parish. "We're just getting some rain and a little bit of wind."
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.
"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.
As of 11 p.m. EDT, Ivan was downgraded to a tropical depression and all tropical storm warnings were discontinued. Ivan's center was about 25 miles east-southeast of Port Arthur with maximum sustained winds near 35 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.
Florida was on edge over Hurricane Jeanne, which has already been blamed for more than 1,100 flooding deaths in Haiti.
At 11 p.m. EDT, Jeanne was centered about 390 miles east of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. It was moving west-northwest near 8 mph, a speed that would bring it near Florida by Sunday. 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.
The effects of previous hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan are still being felt across Florida. In the Panhandle, where Ivan came ashore Sept. 16, tens of thousands of people remain without power, a few hundred remain in shelters and residents in Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key still cannot return to their homes.
"We've already refilled our refrigerators, gotten the debris out of the streets and it's going to happen all over again," McFarlane said as she secured her Greenacres home. "I'm not sure how much more people can take. And some people lost their homes, or part of their homes. The rain is really going to cause some damage the second time around."
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.
Gaping holes remain in the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, where space shuttles are attached to their booster rockets and external fuel tanks before launch. More than 800 aluminum exterior panels were blown off the 525-foot-high structure.
Meanwhile, 105-mph Hurricane Karl stayed on an open-ocean course that threatened only ships, while Lisa weakened into a tropical depression with top sustained winds near 35 mph far out in the Atlantic.
The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.