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Boomerang Storms: Ivan, Jeanne

Floodwaters rise at Robinson Canal, La., as Tropical Storm Ivan makes it way through the Gulf of Mexico, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004. Although the storm was a considerably tamer version of the hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast last week, Ivan had sustained winds of 60 mph. A tropical storm warning was posted for the coast from Morgan City west to Sargent, Texas.
AP/The Courier
Like unwelcome guests who just can't take a hint, Ivan and Jeanne are back on the radar - stirring up trouble for yet another round of destruction.

Tropical Storm Ivan made landfall Thursday night near the Texas-Louisiana line. The storm has now been downgraded to a tropical depression.

Ivan is blamed for 70 deaths in the Caribbean and 60 more when it plowed into the Gulf Coast and through the South last week.

Even as a tropical depression, Ivan is far from harmless. But that doesn't mean Ivan is harmless. The former hurricane has the potential to create floods, with as much as ten inches of rain over the weekend, and forecasters say Galveston, Houston and College Station can expect a pounding.

Florida residents also have an all-too-familiar sinking feeling as 105-mph Hurricane Jeanne appears to be zeroing in for what would be the state's fourth thrashing this season. Jeanne could hit Florida as early as Sunday.

Preparing for the storm, Kennedy Space Center director James Kennedy ordered the base closed to all non-essential personnel on Friday. NASA's spaceport is still trying to repair damage caused by Frances and Charley.

"We've just reached some level of normalcy and here it comes again. I've never seen anything like this," said an exasperated Margaret McFarlane of Greenacres, Fla., who was without power for 12 days after Hurricane Frances. She was already stocking up on water, food and other supplies in preparation for Jeanne.

In all, four tropical weather systems are churning, with the most immediate threat coming from the 23-day-old Ivan. Ivan lost its punch last week after hitting the U.S., but a piece of it spun back and reformed in the Gulf of Mexico as the tropical storm that's now menacing coastal Texas and Louisiana.

"We're expecting it to move inland," said Robbie Berg, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center.

"It's just kind of like a cold front," said Freddie Richard Jr., emergency preparedness director in Louisiana's Cameron Parish. "We're just getting some rain and a little bit of wind."

As of 11 p.m. EDT, Ivan was downgraded to a tropical depression and all tropical storm warnings were discontinued. Ivan's center was about 25 miles east-southeast of Port Arthur with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph.

The last time the Houston area saw a tropical storm was June 2001, when Allison hit and then looped back, dropping 36 inches of rain, killing 22 people and paralyzing the nation's fourth-largest city.

Florida meanwhile is on edge over Hurricane Jeanne, which has already been blamed for more than 1,100 flooding deaths in Haiti.

At 11 p.m. EDT, Jeanne was centered about 390 miles east of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. It is moving west-northwest near 8 mph, a speed that would bring it near Florida by Sunday. Some projections showed the storm hitting central Florida and then moving up the coast to North Carolina by Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center said a hurricane watch likely will be issued for portions of the Florida East coast on Friday morning. Maximum sustained winds are about 105 mph, with some strengthening possible over the next day or two.

"It's time for Floridians to seriously pay attention," said Eric Blake, a meteorologist at the hurricane center.

The effects of previous hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan are still being felt across Florida. In the Panhandle, where Ivan came ashore Sept. 16, tens of thousands of people remain without power, a few hundred remain in shelters and residents in Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key still cannot return to their homes.

"We've already refilled our refrigerators, gotten the debris out of the streets and it's going to happen all over again," McFarlane said as she secured her Greenacres home. "I'm not sure how much more people can take. And some people lost their homes, or part of their homes. The rain is really going to cause some damage the second time around."

Girding for the storm, Kennedy Space Center director James Kennedy ordered the base closed to all non-essential personnel on Friday. NASA's spaceport is still trying to repair damage caused by Frances and Charley.

Gaping holes remain in the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, where space shuttles are attached to their booster rockets and external fuel tanks before launch. More than 800 aluminum exterior panels were blown off the 525-foot-high structure.

Meanwhile, 105-mph Hurricane Karl stayed on an open-ocean course that threatened only ships, while Lisa weakened into a tropical depression with top sustained winds near 35 mph far out in the Atlantic.

The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.