By Times staff and wire reports
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 7, 2001
HOUSTON -- Allison, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, weakened and was downgraded to a tropical depression Wednesday after pouring down as much as a foot of rain that flooded streets and highways.
Most of the storm's remaining rain had drifted into western and southern Louisiana, causing occasional street flooding in New Orleans. Flash flood watches were posted for parts of the state.
In Texas, flood warnings remained in effect for Galveston and Harris counties, including Houston, where rain fell at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour at the height of the storm on Tuesday.
In Florida, four middle-aged men drowned and at least two dozen other swimmers were rescued from storm-related rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico along Panhandle beaches. All the drowning victims were out-of-state visitors swimming at beaches without lifeguards, officials said.
Severe weather delayed several flights at Tampa International Airport but did not cause any serious disruptions, said Brenda Geoghagan, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. There were no cancellations due to the storm.