Tropical storm brings heavy rain to central Mexico

AP News
Posted: Jun 30, 2011 11:47 PM
Tropical storm brings heavy rain to central Mexico

The Atlantic season's first tropical storm swirled over Mexico's central Gulf coast Thursday, bringing heavy rains to a wide swath of the country but causing little damage.

The heart of Tropical Storm Arlene struck land near Cabo Rojo, a cape just off the mainland between the cities of Tampico and Tuxpan. Arlene weakened to a tropical depression late Thursday and was expected to dissipate Friday.

Authorities had worried heavy rains could cause flash floods and mudslides in 13 states.

Mexico's National Water Commission said that by Thursday night the depression was on the border between the states of Hidalgo and San Luis Potosi and that heavy to torrential rains were expected there and in nine other states, including Mexico City.

Incessant rain fell in the city and its metropolitan area, where the Remedios River, which carries sewage water, overflowed in the suburb of Ecatepec.Ecatepec Mayor Indalecio Rios told the newspaper El Universal that he was urging residents in three neighborhoods that flooded to go to shelters set up by the city.

In neighboring Hidalgo state, the rain caused at least six landslides along a highway that connects the state to the Gulf coast city of Tampico, authorities said.

The storm was welcomed in northern Tamaulipas state, where rain fell on soil dried out by the most severe drought to hit the area in 50 years.

"There is nothing to regret and so far the rains have been favorable," Tamaulipas state Civil Protection Secretary Pedro Benavides said. "We hope it keeps raining."

Coastal towns in Veracruz and Tamaulipas states appeared to have escaped serious damage.

In the port city of Tampico, authorities said there was minor flooding in some low-laying neighborhoods. Beaches in the nearby cities of Madero and Altamira remained closed and small vessels were warned to stay docked.

Arlene had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) and was moving inland at 8 mph (13 kph) Thursday evening, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Tree branches fell, water accumulated on some streets and a neighborhood of Tuxpan lost electricity, Veracruz state civil protection authorities reported.

"There aren't any major problems, (and) we hope 'Arlene' will be out of sight by midday," Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte tweeted Thursday. He credited preparations ahead of the storm.

Officials in the states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosi had guarded against possible flooding by closing schools, mobilizing emergency medical units and preparing evacuation shelters as rain fell on coastal and mountain regions.

Mexico's national weather service said 6 inches (150 millimeters) of rain fell over a 24-hour period in northern Veracruz state.


Associated Press writers Efrain Klerigan in Ciudad Victoria and Emilio Lopez in Pachuca contributed to this report.