Texas escapes serious damage as storm weakens

Tropical Storm Hermine was making its way north today after drenching parts of north-eastern Mexico and south Texas.

The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression last night and remnants could spread as far north as Oklahoma and Kansas in the coming days.

The storm brought winds gusting to about 70mph and downpours to Texas but left only minor scrapes in the storm-weary Rio Grande Valley, which is proving resilient this hurricane season after experiencing a third tropical system.

The storm struck the flood-prone valley just after the clean-up finished from Hurricane Alex at the start of the summer and an unnamed tropical depression in July.

But Hermine's remnants are expected to cover more of the US than Alex, which swiped Texas in June as a Category 1 storm before plunging south west and breaking up over Mexico.

"This is going to be much more of a memorable storm than Alex," National Weather Service meteorologist Joseph Tomaselli said.

Much of the 5in to 12in of rain from Hermine fell harmlessly in the Gulf, and flooding was limited to only minor nuisances.

Up to 4in of rain was reported in south Texas, with more rain expected in central and north Texas today as the storm's core continued to move north, according to the National Weather Service.

Hermine made landfall early yesterday in north-eastern Mexico with winds of up to 65mph, arriving near the same spot as Alex. By last night, maximum wind speeds had decreased to about 35mph.

A peeled-back motel roof in the coastal farming town of Raymondville and scattered power outages were about the worst leftover from the gusty, drenching storm that came and went quickly after creeping up on Texas and Mexico in the warm Gulf waters over the long holiday weekend.

Mexico felt the storm effects much more acutely than Texas as Hermine knocked out power for several hours in the border city of Matamoros and damaged about 20 homes, whose inhabitants were among 3,500 people who evacuated to shelters.

Authorities in Mexico said there were no reports of serious injuries or death, which was welcome news after 12 people died in flooding caused by Hurricane Alex earlier this summer.

Authorities had released water from some dams in Mexico to make room for expected run-off.

That added more anxiety in the north-east cattle-ranching region where residents already live under the fear of a bloody turf war between drug cartels.

Hermine struck around the same area where 72 migrants were killed two weeks ago in what is believed to be the country's worst drug gang massacre to date.

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