Hermine lashes south Texas, 3 other storms possible

Tropical storm Hermine is seen in this satellite image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center, September 7, 2010. REUTERS/National Hurricane Center/Handout

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Hermine barely maintained such status on Tuesday as 40 mile per hour winds continued to lash south Texas and the storm moved further inland, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Hermine’s path kept it away from major oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico, and refineries in Texas were unaffected by the passage of the storm, operators said.

The storm was expected to weaken during the next 48 hours and become a tropical depression later Tuesday.

Thunderstorms and flooding rains, however, were expected to continue into the southern Plains and mid-Mississippi Valley before dissipating across the Ohio Valley, according to private forecaster Weather 2000.

In addition, the NHC was monitoring three other tropical systems in the Atlantic basin, including the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston, but it was too early to tell whether any of the systems might move into the Gulf and disrupt offshore energy production.

The NHC said cloudiness and showers over the Leeward Islands and northeastern Caribbean Sea were associated with Gaston’s remnants, but the system had just a 10 percent chance to become a tropical cyclone again during the next 48 hours as it moved westward at 15 to 20 mph.

Computer models still showed the system moving westward in the Caribbean.

A weak area of low pressure about 350 miles west of the northernmost Cape Verde Islands also had a 10 percent chance to develop further as it moved westward at about 10 mph, while a tropical wave between the Cape Verde Islands and the west coast of Africa also had a 10 percent chance to develop into a tropical cyclone as it moved westward at 10 to 15 mph.

Reporting by Eileen Moustakis