Tropical Storm Ernesto hugged the southern coast of the Bay of Campeche as it moved slowly through Mexico’s oil-production hub toward landfall near Coatzacoalcos, the National Hurricane Center said.
Ernesto, with torrential rain and winds of 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour, was 5 miles north of Coatzacoalcos and traveling west at 5 mph, the Miami-based center said in an advisory at 2 p.m. East Coast time.
Tropical storm-strength winds of 39 mph or more extend 140 miles outward from the system’s core. Ernesto is expected to weaken once it’s on land and dissipate within two days.
Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, earlier closed two of its three largest oil-export terminals ahead of the storm. Most of the company’s oil production is in the Bay of Campeche.
Ernesto went ashore on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula yesterday as a Category 1 hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm as it crossed the rugged interior and emerged back over water in the Bay of Campeche.
Pemex closed the Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas terminals, Mexico’s Merchant Marine, part of the transport ministry, said yesterday in its daily weather bulletin. The port of Coatzacoalcos remained open.
Cayo Arcas is the Mexico City-based company’s largest export terminal, followed by Coatzacoalcos and Dos Bocas. Mexico is the third-largest oil exporter to the U.S. and supplied 1.05 million barrels a day of crude in the week ended July 27, Energy Department data show.
As much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain may fall over the Mexican states of Tabasco, Veracruz, Puebla and northern Oaxaca through tomorrow, creating life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, the center said. The storm is forecast to weaken as it moves over land and rougher terrain.
In the Atlantic, a cluster of storms about 1,000 miles west of the southern Cape Verde Islands has an 80 percent chance of strengthening into a tropical system in the next 48 hours.
In the Pacific off Mexico, Gilma developed into a hurricane with 75 mph winds, the center also said. It was 715 miles from the southern tip of Baja California, moving west and posing no danger to land.
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