PENSACOLA, Fla. — Tropical Storm Ida sloshed ashore with rain and gusty winds Tuesday before weakening to a depression, leaving weather-hardened Gulf Coast residents largely unscathed and bringing more rain to the already-soaked Southeast.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's center first touched land on Dauphin Island, Ala., before heading across Mobile Bay toward the Alabama mainland and on to Florida.
Top sustained winds dropped to near 35 mph (55 mph) as Ida weakened and moved northeast at about 9 mph (15 kph). It was expected to turn east before being absorbed by a front Wednesday.
Pensacola Beach was windy and gray but mostly rain-free throughout Tuesday morning and early afternoon as residents ventured out after a night of howling storm gusts and drenching rains. Beachgoers collected seashells, driftwood and other treasures churned up by the rough surf.
Erin Strong of Memphis, Tenn., who rents a beach front home with her family each November, said she was unnerved by Ida's power.
"The waves came up to the front of our house," she said. "I couldn't believe the electricity stayed on the entire time."
Tropical storm warnings were discontinued Tuesday morning across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Forecasters said the storm had already spread most of its heavy rain onshore along the Gulf Coast ahead of Ida's center.
"The only thing it did to us is knock out the power," resident Jimmy Wentworth said as he sipped coffee outside the Ship&Shore convenience store in Dauphin Island, Ala. "Our houses and people are fine. I'm fine."
In Louisiana, authorities continued searching for 70-year-old fisherman Leo Ancalade, who was presumed dead after he was knocked off his boat by a wave as Ida approached Monday. The Coast Guard said he was towing friends whose small boat lost power in the Mississippi River near Fort Jackson.
No other U.S. deaths were reported, but earlier in the week, a low-pressure system that the hurricane may have helped attract triggered flooding and landslides in El Salvador that killed at least 130 people.
The storm shut down nearly a third of oil and natural gas production in the Gulf as companies moved workers ahead of Ida, but demand was so low due to the economic downturn that energy prices barely budged Tuesday. Oil companies were expected to fly workers back out to platforms relatively quickly to restart operations.
Scattered power outages were reported, but water that filled parking lots and roadsides in coastal Alabama late Monday was gone by daybreak Tuesday. The winds were brisk, whipping palm fronds and whistling through doors. On the beach, dry sand blew like snow in the glow of lights.
The storm left some debris and standing water in the streets on Dauphin Island but did not do much other damage.
Ankle-deep water pooled on roads in the island's lower-lying west end, where many residents had left their homes before Ida hit. A police officer standing guard said the extent of the damage was unknown.
Atlanta resident Mike White drove down Monday to see the storm and was watching breakers crash at Gulf Shores early Tuesday. The sky was clear overhead but there were clouds all around.
"This is spectacular," White said. "It's almost like we are in the eyewall."
In Orange Beach, east of Mobile Bay near the Florida state line, hotel desk clerk Frank Worley said Ida came ashore more like a thunderstorm than a hurricane.
"It was a lot of waves and wind, but it wasn't very harsh," he said.
The sun was out in Mississippi's easternmost coastal county, where authorities said the storm was pretty much over and water was already receding from about two dozen local roads that had flooded.
Patrick Keene, 71, and his wife, Kathie, live in a doublewide trailer in the shadow of the beach front home in Pascagoula, Miss., that they are rebuilding four years after Hurricane Katrina.
While his wife retreated to their son's home across the state Monday night, Keene and his dog rode out the storm in the trailer.
"We get summer squalls frequently that are as bad as this one," he said.
Ida started moving across the Gulf as the third hurricane of this year's quiet Atlantic tropical season, which ends Dec. 1, but weakened before it got to the U.S. Ronnie Powell, headed to his construction job on Pensacola Beach, wasn't impressed.
"We've had thunderstorms worse than that," he said.
Associated Press Writers Bill Kaczor in Pensacola, Greg Bluestein in Dauphin Island, Ala., Jay Reeves in Gulf Shores, Ala., and Mike Kunzelman in Pascagoula, Miss., contributed to this report.