Houston Watches as Cindy Drifts Toward Sabine

The greater Houston area awaits the expected arrival overnight of Tropical Storm Cindy.

The storm is about 120 miles southeast of Galveston, where the coastal Bolivar Peninsula residents are making final preparations to secure their beachside homes -- and then decide whether to hunker down or observe a voluntary call for evacuation.

The storm is about 130 miles due south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, which has made preparations for wind gusts and heavy rains -- but may well see its far-flung casino and petrochemical operations continue with little or no interruption.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from San Luis Pass eastward to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Landfall -- perhaps at the Texas-Louisiana border -- and a turn toward the north-northwest is expected Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with a bend toward the northeast expected on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On the forecast track as of late Wednesday afternoon, the center of Cindy will move inland over southeastern Texas or southwestern Louisiana late tonight or early Thursday, then move near or over extreme eastern Texas, western and northern Louisiana, and southeastern Arkansas Thursday and Thursday night.

Maximum sustained winds are below 50 mph, with higher gusts. Little change in Cindy's strength is expected before landfall -- with rapid weakening afterward.

NHC forecasters also note: 

--Tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 115 miles from the center.

--Rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches can be expected farther west across western Louisiana and eastern Texas through Thursday night. 

--The storm is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 9 inches with isolated maximum amounts up to 15 inches over southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and western portions of the Florida Panhandle through Thursday night.

--A storm or 1 to 3 feet above ground level is expected along the coast in portions of the Tropical Storm Warning area.

--"A few tornadoes" are possible from southern Louisiana eastward, but not expected in Texas.

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