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Tropical Storm Bertha Weakens

August 5, 2002

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Tropical Storm Bertha came ashore on the Gulf Coast with heavy rain early Monday, causing flash flooding in parts of Mississippi.

No injuries or damage were reported.

Bertha quickly weakened and was reclassified from a tropical storm to a tropical depression just before 7 a.m., when its sustained wind fell below 39 mph.

The storm, which formed late Sunday, touched land 20 miles southeast of New Orleans. By midmorning rain was falling from southeastern Louisiana across Mississippi and Alabama into the western edge of the Florida Panhandle.

Four to 5 inches of rain fell in southeastern Mississippi, said Todd Adams, who heads emergency operations in Jackson County. Up to 8 inches of rain was possible.

``We’re getting plenty of neighborhood flooding, street flooding,″ said Adams.

He said wind gusted to 30 mph before the system weakened.

In Louisiana, a thunderstorm dumped 3 inches of rain on Slidell, just west of the Mississippi state line. Lesser amounts fell in Alabama.

At 7 a.m., the broad and poorly defined center of the meandering depression was in the vicinity of New Orleans, said forecaster Richard Pasch at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Meteorologists warned that thunderstorms were possible in the area through Tuesday.

As a precaution, New Orleans opened its emergency preparedness center.

Eighteen floodgates along the Industrial Canal and Lake Pontchartrain were closed to keep high tides from entering the city, said Steve Spencer, chief engineer with the Orleans Parish Levee District.

``If you didn’t close a bunch of these you’d get water in the city,″ he said.

Bertha was the second tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

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