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Tropical Storm Edouard heads for Texas-La. coast
TROPICAL WEATHER NY 5231880
A satellite image provided by the NOAA shows Tropical Storm Edouard in the Gulf of Mexico below Louisiana at 12:45 a.m. EDT Monday Aug. 4, 2008. The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for the coast of western Louisiana and eastern Texas, Sunday night Aug. 3, 2008 because hurricane conditions are possible from Tropical Storm Edouard within the next 24 hours. - photo by Associated Press
    GALVESTON, TEXAS — Tropical Storm Edouard took aim at Texas’ Gulf coast at the height of tourist season Monday, threatening to pick up strength from warm Gulf waters and gain near-hurricane speeds before a projected landfall a day later.
    Neighboring southwest Louisiana also braced for the storm, with one parish evacuating homes nearest the Gulf.
    Emergency teams were activated as Gulf residents prepared for their second strong storm in two weeks, although Edouard is forecast to hit a different stretch of the Texas coast or Louisiana than Hurricane Dolly did last month.
    Edouard is not forecast to bring the 100-mph winds to Galveston that punished South Padre Island on July 23, but the timing could not be worse: the Texas coast banks on tourism at this time of year, with much of the state baking in 100-degree weather.
    ‘‘This is not the time of year for anyone along the Texas coast to be interrupted by these storms,’’ said Dan Quandt, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. ‘‘A lot of people come just to get out of the heat.’’
    Some of the Gulf’s offshore oil and natural gas drilling platforms sit in the storm’s path. But Edouard is not likely to disrupt production, according to one financial firm that specializes in the energy industry.
    ‘‘He’ll just be (a) little tropical storm tike compared to big mamma’s that rip things up and spike gas prices,’’ the Houston-based securities firm Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. said in a note to investors Monday.
    Shell Oil Co. said Monday morning it had begun evacuating about 40 workers from some of its operations in the western Gulf. The company said no further evacuations were planned based on the current forecast and that it expected no impact on production.
    ExxonMobil Corp. had not evacuated any workers or cut production by Sunday evening, but the company was preparing its platforms for heavy wind and rain and considering whether to evacuate some workers, spokeswoman Margaret Ross said in an e-mail statement.
    Rudy Guidry of Grand Isle, on the Louisiana coast south of New Orleans, was on his father’s houseboat Monday morning making it a bit more secure than usual. ‘‘We’re on the water right now. Just putting on extra lines in case it comes up,’’ he said.
    In southwest Louisiana, the Cameron Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness called a mandatory evacuation for people who live south of the Intracoastal Waterway and therefore closest to the Gulf. ‘‘Probably a couple thousand’’ people live in the area, down from 5,000 to 6,000 before Hurricane Rita hit in 2005, said Eddie Benoit, assistant director of the office.
    ‘‘We’re going to set roadblocks up at 5 o’clock (p.m.) and there’ll be limited entrance,’’ Benoit said.
    Edouard was expected to make landfall somewhere in Texas or southwest Louisiana on Tuesday morning. It was moving west near 8 mph, and forecasters said the warm waters of the Gulf provided the right conditions for the storm to intensify and approach hurricane strength with winds of 75 mph or more.
    A tropical storm warning was in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River westward to Port O’Connor in Texas. A hurricane watch was in effect from west of Intracoastal City, La. to Port O’Connor.
    At 11 a.m. EDT, Edouard had maximum sustained winds near 45 mph, with higher gusts. The storm’s center was located about 160 miles south-southeast of Lafayette, La., and 265 miles east-southeast of Galveston, Texas.
    Connie Porter, owner of Avenue O Bed and Breakfast in Galveston, said she planned to watch the progression of the storm on Monday, but she wasn’t worried about it. She said a storm like the one being described might mean some debris and that people should take care of patio furniture, but she didn’t anticipate much more.
    ‘‘It’s not going to be a huge issue for anybody in this area,’’ Porter said.
    Krista Piferrer, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said Sunday that state emergency management officials were getting updates through conference calls with the National Weather Service.
    Texas began activating a number of emergency teams Sunday afternoon, including calling up 1,200 Texas military forces and six UH-60 helicopters, the State Operations Center said. The Texas Forest Service and the Texas Engineering and Extension Service activated response teams.
    Edouard was expected to turn toward the west-northwest later Monday, which would bring the center near the coast on either side of the Texas-Louisiana border by Tuesday morning.
    About 260 miles down the coast, South Padre Island is just starting to get back on its feet from Hurricane Dolly.
    While the island resumed its weekly Friday night fireworks display and regained electric power last week, Dolly’s impact will carry on through the end of summer.
    The island’s four biggest full-service hotels are closed. One will reopen Oct. 1, another Nov. 1 and the other two have not announced, Quandt said. The island’s convention center will also be shuttered until Oct. 1.
    Isolated tornadoes were possible over parts of southern Louisiana and the upper Texas coast later Monday, according to the hurricane center. Rainfall of 3 to 5 inches was expected in coastal Louisiana and southeast Texas, with isolated amounts up to 10 inches in Texas. Tides of 2 to 4 feet above normal levels were expected in parts of the warning area.
    ——
    Associated Press Writers John Porretto in Houston, Jamie Stengle in Dallas, Christopher Sherman in McAllen and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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