MOBILE, Alabama, November 10, 2009 (ENS) – Arriving late in the Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Ida made landfall around 6:40 am local time this morning on Dauphin Island, along the Alabama coastline, with maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from the center.

Ida has the potential to produce rainfall measuring three to six inches an hour from areas that include the western panhandle of Florida, north and central Georgia, eastern Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. Some isolated areas may even receive as much as eight inches of rainfall.

The largest swaths of rain expected today will stretch from east of Panama City to Tallahassee, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama east to Atlanta, Georgia, says Rob Gutro of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Ida has now weakened to a tropical depression and is expected to continue weakening as it moves northeast at about nine niles per hour. The National Weather Service has discontinued all warnings.

The latest image from NASA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-12) shows that the bulk of Ida’s clouds and rain are now inland, even though Ida’s center was located along the Alabama coast.

Last night, 16-foot waves were reported from an oil rig located 20 miles off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Ida forced cruise ships heading out of Florida and Texas to change course yesterday.

Winds were gusting to 50 mph at Pass Christian, Mississippi last night, while Pascagoula, Mississippi reported flooding and tree damage.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley on Monday declared an official state of emergency across the state to allow him to invoke emergency preparedness measures, including Alabama’s price gouging law, which imposes penalties for raising prices during an official state of emergency.

During a press briefing at shipbuilder Austal USA in Mobile, Governor Riley urged Alabama residents to take the threat seriously.

“We’ve weathered storms before and Alabamians have proven we know how to respond,” said the governor. “Though it may not have the force of some of the storms we have dealt with in the past, we cannot afford to take Tropical Storm Ida lightly. The storm surge on the coast and flooding inland pose major threats which we all must take very seriously.”

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency has been directed to make appropriate assessments of damages and seek the state and federal assistance for the affected areas, if necessary.

Governor Riley and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long will continue to be in contact with local emergency management officials in counties throughout the state to discuss storm response.

Mobile County public works toured the county this morning checking roadways for damage and debris, but found nothing to report, county spokeswoman Nancy Johnson told the Mobile Press-Register newspaper.

Tomorrow and Thursday Ida’s energy will merge with an approaching cold front from the west and will bring heavy rainfall on the eastern part of the Carolinas as the remnants move north-northeast and out into the Atlantic Ocean, says NASA’s Rob Gutro. Once in the Atlantic, Ida’s remnants are expected to run north along the coast as a Low pressure system bringing rains to the mid-Atlantic states.

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