Tropical Storm Lee Crawls Along the Gulf States

SAUCIER, Miss. (AP) -- The big soggy mess known as Tropical Storm Lee continues to make haste slowly.

At last report, the National Hurricane Center says Lee had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Its center was about 45 miles southeast of Alexandria, La., moving north at 6 mph.

Forecasters say Lee is expected to maintain tropical storm strength, with maximum sustained winds of at least 39 mph, through Monday as it pushes across Mississippi.

Lee is expected to weaken over the coming days, but it could drop 4 to 8 inches of rain as it pushes across Alabama on Tuesday and Wednesday and into Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. The storm is expected to produce less rain the farther north it gets.

In New Orleans, almost 14 inches of rain had fallen by midafternoon Sunday. Downpours caused some street flooding, but pumps were sucking up the water and sending it into Lake Pontchartrain. The mayor's office says all 24 of the sewerage and water board pumps are working at capacity.

Parts of the Gulf Coast continue to wallow in the misery of slow-moving Tropical Storm Lee, which has dumped more than a foot of rain in New Orleans and spun off tornadoes elsewhere.

Areas of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi near the coast report scattered wind damage and flooding. But evacuations appear to be in the hundreds rather than the thousands. And New Orleans' levees are doing their job just over six years after Hurricane Katrina swamped the city.

The National Hurricane Center says Lee's flash flood threat could be more severe as the rain moves from the flatter Gulf region into the rugged Appalachians.

No deaths have been directly attributed to Tropical Storm Lee, though a body boarder in Galveston, Texas, drowned after being pulled out to sea in heavy surf churned up by Lee.

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