Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | August 13, 2011

Tropical Storm Don Laps At Drought-Stricken Texas; Little Rain

Tropical storm Don laps at Texas coast, little rain

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Don began washing ashore on the south Texas Gulf Coast on Friday evening with mild winds and little of the rain that drought-afflicted Texans had been hoping for, the National Weather Service said.

With only two to four inches of rainfall expected, Don struck the lightly populated Baffin Bay area of the Texas Coastal Bend, north of Brownsville and south of Corpus Christi.

Coastal Texas residents, who have been hoping for a mild storm with no casualties but plenty of rain, had made final preparations on Friday for Don’s arrival of Don, filling up cars and moving off islands.

At least eight flights at Corpus Christi International Airport were canceled Friday because of the storm.

In Corpus Christi, on the edge of the storm’s impact zone, city beach crews gathered up lifeguard stands, garbage cans and any other items that could become debris in the storm’s winds. Officials also cleared local drains to cut down any chance of flooding.

Both Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Del Mar College in Corpus Christi closed on Friday and planned to reopen Monday. About 500 students were evacuated from the island university campus.

Padre Island National Seashore officials had closed all its beaches as well as park and access roads by Friday afternoon.

Some residents spent the day enjoying the waves kicked up by the storm, as well as preparing for its landfall.

Tripp Howse brought his daughter, Kaitlin, and her friend Callie Brown, both 11, to the Bob Hall Pier near Corpus Christi to surf the storm waves. Howse said waves had risen by 3 to 4 feet by early afternoon.

“It’s usually flat in the summer doldrums,” said Howse, who has surfed for more than 30 years.

But Howse said he bought some extra food and put gas in his vehicle just in case Don decided to take a turn for the worse.

“When you live on the coast,” he said, “you need to be ready at all times.”

Bill Fintel planned to spend the night Friday in his restaurant at Bob Hall Pier.

“I’m looking at this like a thunderstorm,” Fintel said. “Move in, move out, it’s over.”

Fintel, owner of Barnacle Bill’s Pier House and Grill, wanted to make sure his business didn’t have any leaks or other minor damages during the first storm to make landfall in the 2011 hurricane season.

Fintel said he received a record number of customers at his restaurant Thursday, as well as a 20 percent increase to his business Friday.

“So far, it has been positive here,” he said.

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