Rainmaker Cindy Soaks Texas On Approach

Update: 1:30 a.m.

Less than 50 miles from Texas, Tropical Storm Cindy is proving to be a major rainmaker along the U.S gulf coast.

The storm continues to moves north-northwest at 7 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It's currently less that 50 miles south-southwest of Port Arthur and 65 miles south-southwest of an already well-soaked Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Though Cindy has not reached land, "tropical storm conditions are affecting portions of the Tropical Storm Warning area,"according to the National Hurricane Center in its 1 a.m. Thursday update.

The hardest-hit areas in Texas are near the Sabine River and the cities closest to it -- such as Beaumont, which has been drenched by on-and-off rain bands. Areas just outside Houston have also felt the inland effects of a storm that's still in the gulf.

"Heaviest rainfall (is) currently just west of the Texas/Louisiana," the NHC says. "...Rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches can be expected farther west across ... eastern Texas through Thursday night."

The expected landfall track continues to place Cindy going in at a spot at or near Sabine Pass -- perhaps coastal Cameron Parish in neighboring Louisiana. Cameron is where Hurricane Audrey slammed the coast 60 years this month, killing more than 400 people. While this storm is no Audrey, it has already claimed at least one life -- that of a child who was in the water and struck by a storm-driven log.

 "A turn toward the north should occur by Thursday morning, with a turn toward the northeast expected on Friday," according to the NHC. "On the forecast track, the center of Cindy will move inland near the Louisiana-Texas border early Thursday, then move across western and northern Louisiana and into southeastern Arkansas Thursday night.

Maximum sustained winds have fallen to 45 mph. There's little chance Cindy will gain any strength before landfall, the NHC says.

The storm has tropical-storm-force winds that extend more than 100 miles from its center.

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