Ida Turns into Tropical Depression

Tuesday tropical storm Ida drenched the US Gulf coast. Ida lost strength as it moved north and is forecast to further weaken.

On Sunday Ida was a category two hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.

The storm however remains dangerous: it is forecast to dump up to eight inches (20 centimeters) of rain across the southeastern United States, and area officials were preparing for floods and damage caused by the ocean surge.

Ida made landfall at 1140 GMT on Dauphin Island, Alabama, packing wind gusts of 45 miles per hour (75 kilometers per hour), and was forecast to hit mainland Alabama later Tuesday, said the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, AFP reports.

Meanwjile, forecasters say Ida has weakened to a tropical depression.

The tropical depression is moving northeast about 9 mph (15 kph) and is expected to continue in that direction until being absorbed by a front on Wednesday.

Forecasters say most of the heavy rain is over and tropical storm warnings have been discontinued.

The storm had shut down nearly a third of oil and natural gas production in Gulf as oil companies evacuated workers ahead of Ida. But demand for energy is so low due to the economic downturn, energy prices have barely budged, The Associated Press reports.

It was also reported, world oil prices flattened on Tuesday as worries subsided over the potential threat posed by Hurricane Ida to petroleum installations in the US Gulf of Mexico, analysts said.

Traders also digested the latest oil demand and price forecasts from the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), which is a global energy watchdog that advises industrialized nations.

New York 's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, eased two cents to 79.41 dollars a barrel.

Top oil-producing countries fear the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen next month could levy new taxes on the oil and gas industries, AFP reports.

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