Tropical Storm Cindy weakens slightly ahead of U.S. Gulf Coast landfall | Reuters

Tropical Storm Cindy weakened slightly on Wednesday afternoon as it headed toward landfall on the Texas-Louisiana border, but it still threatened to bring flash floods from Texas to Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Cindy’s wind speed fell to maximum sustained winds of 50 miles (85 km) per hour, and the storm center was located about 170 miles (270 km) south of Morgan City, Louisiana, the NHC said in an afternoon update.

A child died in the Gulf Coast community of Fort Morgan, Alabama, the U.S. Coast Guard said, adding that it had been called to assist with a helicopter evacuation but that the child succumbed to injuries before it could launch a rescue.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and readied emergency vehicles and the Louisiana National Guard. As of noon, he said there were no reports of significant flooding or damage, but added there were worries of tornadoes striking the state.

Alabama also declared a state of emergency, Texas increased its state of preparedness and Florida’s governor warned residents in the northwest part of his state to stay alert for flooding and heavy rain.

The storm so far has mostly limited impact on oil and gas production. About 17 percent of oil production in the Gulf was shut in and 40 platforms, or about 5 percent, were evacuated. Expected rains and wind could disrupt regional refineries that are home to some 2.3 million barrels per day of refining capacity.

Sabine Pilots, which guides ships in and out of the ports of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange, Texas, suspended some operations on Wednesday, a spokesperson said.

The storm, moving northwest at nearly 9 miles (14 km) per hour, was expected to make landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border, near major Exxon Mobil Corp., Motiva Enterprises and Total SA refineries. Outages at refineries could drive up gasoline prices.

“The big story here is going to be a large area of rain across the…

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