BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- A tropical depression whipped up Gulf of Mexico seas, spawned tornadoes and caused heavy rains Saturday during its steady movement inland over south Texas.
Officials warned of the possibility of flash flooding and issued watches throughout the south Texas area. Shrimpers and some oil rig workers returned to shore because of high seas.
By late Saturday, the depression was located about 50 miles west of Brownsville and was expected to slowly disssipate over the next few days.
As the poorly defined depression moved inland, it spawned several tornadoes and funnel clouds in an area between Brownsville and Corpus Christi. There were reports of minor damage but no injuries.
A tornado hit the Las Palmas Trailer Park near Mission, tearing an awning and door off a trailer causing 'probably $600 to $700 worth of damage,' said Department of Public Safety Sgt. James Burnhardt.
The twister was one of at least three that touched down in Nueces County. At least four others were reported in Hidalgo County.
Burkhardt said that shortly after 3 p.m., officers spotted a pair of tornadoes traveling along the ground in an open area southwest of McAllen.
'So we've got three that we know were down and two that were possible,' he said. 'We've been put under a warning ... so we've got everyone we can out looking.'
The depression, which formed Friday in the western Gulf, carried highest sustained winds of 35 mph -- 4 mph below tropical storm strength - and higher gusts in squalls, said the National Hurricance Center in Miami.
A small craft advisory remained in effect throughout the coast and civil defense coordinators were at their posts readying emergency plans in the event the storm system worsened, authorities said.
U.S. Coast Guard officials in Port Isabel, Texas, said they received one distress call late Friday from a shrimp boat foundering about 200 yards from shore. A rescue vessel helped empty the water from the sinking boat, which was brought ashore with the help of commercial craft. No injuries were reported.
Non-essential personnel were being removed from oil rigs in the Gulf and oil company officials were monitoring weather changes should additional evacuations become necessary.
Shell Oil spokesman Tom Denham said about 40 construction and drilling workers had been removed from five rigs located about 40 miles off the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas, by early Saturday.
'As far as the other people (remaining on the rigs), Shell Oil is standing by and watching the weather,' he said.