By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Associated Press
McALLEN, Texas — The tropical storm that formed off the coast of Mexico and was headed for Texas would not break the state's drought, but its rains could spell trouble for the region's cotton harvest.
Tropical storm Don was expected to make landfall north of Corpus Christi Friday night with rains of 1 to 2 inches along its path and a couple inches more locally, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Speece. By Sunday afternoon Don would be a tropical depression over the Big Bend area.
Don was about 120 miles north of Cozumel, Mexico with sustained winds of 40 miles per hour Wednesday afternoon. The storm was moving at 12 miles per hour and expected to follow a northwesterly course.
The path would cross a region of exceptional drought, but also come in the middle of the cotton harvest.
"It will catch them up some, but it won't necessarily be a drought breaker," Speece said.
Cotton farmers across South Texas are hoping Don goes elsewhere because two weeks remain in their harvest.
"As far as the farmers are concerned we don't want any rain now," said Carlos Fernandez, an associate professor at Texas AgriLife Research in Corpus Christi. While ranchers with barren pastures would welcome rain, sorghum is already harvested so it wouldn't benefit and cotton is being harvested now, he said.
Rod Santa Ana, the Texas AgriLife spokesman in the Rio Grande Valley, said rain and strong winds now could knock cotton bolls to the ground rendering them useless or splash them with dirt driving down their value.
"This rain, should we get it, will of course be a blessing overall because we can't farm down here without rain," Santa Ana said. "But this is the worst time for rains to come right now for cotton harvesters."