August 24, 2008 in Nation/World

Fay weakens, stays dangerous

Associated Press

APALACHICOLA, Fla. – Tropical Storm Fay was downgraded to a tropical depression Saturday night, but Gulf Coast cities were still bracing for possible flooding.

As a tropical storm, Fay set a record with four landfalls in Florida and was blamed for at least 11 deaths there and another in Georgia, officials said.

The storm weakened as it traveled inland Saturday, with maximum sustained winds about 35 mph. Forecasters said areas from the Florida panhandle to eastern Louisiana could get 6 to 12 inches of rain before the storm ends. Tornadoes were also possible.

“People automatically assume that if it weakens, the hazards go down with it, but in the case of rainfall, it’s not a function of wind speed,” said Jamie Rhome, of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “Slow moving systems dump a lot of rainfall.”

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