Tropical Storm Lee has weakened to a tropical depression and according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) “flooding rains” are expected through the central Gulf Coast to the Appalachians. However, for a drought-weary Texas – Lee brought just strong, gusty winds which brought little relief to the state that is trying to deal with extensive wildfires at present.
Evacuations in Bastrop County, located east of Austin, Texas, and neighboring Travis County have been ordered as a result of the fires, Reuters reported.
“We’re a little on edge right now. We have several fires that we thought we had put out, but these winds came up today and started them up again,” Texas Forest Service spokesman Tom Berglund told Reuters.
Lee has dumped over a foot of rain on New Orleans but is expected to bypass the Lone Star state.
As of 10:00 p.m. Sunday the center of Tropical Depression Lee was moving east-northeast. The storm was located about 55 miles west-southwest of McComb, Mississippi and about 60 miles east-southeast of Alexandria, Louisiana.
Forecasters predicted that Lee’s center would move across southern Mississippi Sunday night through Monday.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to about 35 mph, with higher gusts. According to the NHC, the strongest winds are located to the south and southeast of Lee’s center.
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“Little change in strength is expected in the next day or so as Lee becomes an extra-tropical cyclone,” said the NHC.
An extra-tropical cyclone is a storm system that gets its energy mostly from the horizontal temperature contrasts that exist in the atmosphere. Extra-tropical cyclones are low pressure systems that have associated cold, warm, or occluded fronts.
The NHC stated that heavy rains would continue to move northeastward into the Tennessee Valley and Southern Appalachian Mountains – producing 4 to 8 inches of rain through Tuesday. An isolated amount of 10 inches is possible.
“These rains are expected to cause extensive flooding and flash flooding,” the NHC warned.
According to the National Hurricane Center, all coastal tropical storm warnings have been discontinued, however a few tornadoes are possible Sunday night and Monday over parts of southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle, and extreme southwestern Georgia.