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Storm Arlene soaks Texas

Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, soaked much of the Texas Gulf Coast with rain Saturday, but its winds were barely above storm strength.

A tropical storm warning was posted for the Texas coast from Brownsville northeastward to Matagorda, and a coastal flood watch extended from Matagorda to Port Arthur at the Louisiana state line.

Saturday night, Arlene's center was almost stationary at 26.2 north latitude and 96.8 west longitude, or about 45 miles east-northeast of Brownsville.

It was expected to push slowly toward the south Texas shore during the night. Arlene's center is expected to land between Brownsville and Baffin Bay.

"It doesn't look real potent, really," said Richard Hagan, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's Brownsville office.

As a tropical depression, Arlene soaked Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula with heavy rain for two days. Early Saturday, its maximum sustained wind speed reached 39 mph, the threshold for giving it the title of tropical storm. Tropical storms become hurricanes when sustained wind speed reaches 74 mph.

Arlene had sustained winds of only 40 mph, so little wind damage was expected.

But flooding was possible as the storm sent bands of showers and thunderstorms onshore. The low-lying Rio Grande Valley and the coastal bend of Corpus Christi already have been rain-soaked for the past few weeks.

"There's hardly a spot that doesn't have standing water on it in the valley, or at least the ground is saturated," said Hagan of the Weather Service. "It wouldn't take a whole lot of rain to begin to cause some flooding problems."

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