The Latest: Heavy rains set in as Cindy nearing Gulf coast – Washington Post

 In U.S.
NEW ORLEANS — The Latest on Tropical Storm Cindy (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports high seas churned up by Tropical Storm Cindy complicated efforts to save a struggling shrimp trawler in the Gulf, but the vessel and its crew of four made it safely back to port in Texas.

A Coast Guard statement issued Wednesday says the 68-foot trawler Footprint was about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas, when its crew radioed a distress message late Tuesday. The crew reported the vessel was taking on water faster than its onboard pumps could clear it.

A Coast Guard cutter, patrol plane and rescue helicopter were dispatched tp the scene early Wednesday. However, weather conditions kept the helicopter crew from lowering a rescue swimmer.

The helicopter crew, instead, lowered an extra pump that enabled the shrimp boat crew to clear the water and stay afloat. The Coast Guard cutter then escorted the vessel back to Freeport, Texas.

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4:30 p.m.

Severe weather whipped up Tropical Storm Cindy has damaged homes and vehicles in the Florida Panhandle.

Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said Wednesday that falling trees have hit houses and cars in what she called “pockets of wind damage” in two or three residential neighborhoods. The locally popular Ferry Park had a number of trees down and a concrete-block baseball dugout was destroyed.

Okaloosa County Emergency Management spokesman Rob Brown said the National Weather Service told the county the storm was a supercell. He says it was likely a tornado, but forecasters won’t declare it as one until they have a ground survey team assess the area.

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3:55 p.m.

Forecasters say heavy rains are now lashing parts of the northern Gulf coast as Tropical Storm Cindy gets closer to expected landfall in coming hours.

The National Hurricane Center says it expects little change in strength before Cindy reaches the coast late Wednesday, somewhere along the Texas-Louisiana line.

By Wednesday afternoon, the center of the storm was about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas, and roughly the same distance south of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Top wind speeds have remained at about 50 mph (85 kph) in recent hours as the storm churns toward land at about 9 mph (kph).

Forecasters say heavy rains from Cindy could cause life-threatening flash floods. The forecast generally calls for 6-9 inches (150-230 millimeters) of rain with up to 15 inches (380 millimeters) in some isolated spots. The Miami-based center also warns a few tornadoes are possible overnight from the Florida Panhandle into south Louisiana.

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1:10 p.m.

Authorities say a 10-year-old Missouri boy has died on the Alabama coast after being struck by a log washed in on rough surf associated with Tropical Storm Cindy.

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Stephen Arthur says the boy was hit by the debris around midmorning Wednesday in Fort Morgan, a coastal community on a peninsula at the mouth of Mobile Bay. Stephen said witnesses reported the boy was standing outside a condominium when he was struck by the log that crashed in on a large wave.

Arthur says the child was vacationing with his family and was from the St. Louis area. He says relatives and emergency workers tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the boy. His name wasn’t immediately released.

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1 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Cindy is heading toward the northern Gulf coast, where it is expected to make landfall in the coming hours.

The center said in an update at 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday that the storm was centered about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana — or roughly the same distance southeast of Galveston, Texas. Its sustained winds continue to top out at 50 mph (85 kph) and it’s moving closer to the coast at a rate of 9 mph (14 kph).

Forecasters say the storm is nearing the coast along a stretch between southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana. They add that little change in strength is expected before landfall but that it will weaken once it moves inland on Thursday.

Heavy rains associated with the storm are raising the possibility of life-threatening flash floods over a wide area of the coast.

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12:40 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging his state’s residents to take Tropical Storm Cindy seriously.

As of midday Wednesday, there were no reports of serious home or business flooding in Louisiana. But, at a news conference, Edwards noted that two unnamed storms slammed Louisiana last year with heavy flood devastation.

Strong rain bands from Cindy continued to sweep across the Gulf Coast. And authorities said dangers from flash floods, severe storms and possible tornadoes remained a danger. Edwards declared a state of emergency early Wednesday. And Plaquemines Parish on the southeast Louisiana coast declared an emergency at midday.

Cindy was expected to make landfall near the Louisiana-Texas state line Thursday.

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Noon

Tropical Storm Cindy is pumping seawater into an area of the Mississippi-Louisiana coast that’s vulnerable to storm tide flooding.

Tides on Wednesday morning were 4 feet (1.2 meters) above normal in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and 5 feet (1.5 meters) above normal farther southwest, at Shell Beach, on Louisiana’s coast.

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