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Miss. Gulf Coast Storm Weakens

August 5, 2002

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Tropical Storm Bertha made landfall early Monday, bringing heavy rain to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Bertha lost its status as a tropical storm just before 7 a.m. when sustained winds dipped below 39 mph and Bertha became a tropical depression.

Still, forecasters warned of the possibility of heavy rain throughout Monday in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi as the poorly defined storm continued to move ashore on a track to the north.

The storm touched land 20 miles southeast of New Orleans. A thunderstorm dumped 3 inches of rain on Slidell, just to the west of the Mississippi border and 2 to 4 inches were reported at Gulfport, Miss. The band of rain extended largely from Gulfport to Pensacola, Fla., the National Weather Service said.

Southern Alabama and parts of the Florida Panhandle were also expected to have rainfall during the day.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

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.

A number of storms were still far off the coast, and forecasters warned of the possibility of thunderstorms in the area through Tuesday.

As a precaution, the city of New Orleans opened its emergency preparedness center early Monday.

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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