Arlene Is First Tropical Storm of Atlantic Hurricane Season

The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, Arlene, formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and may cause “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Arlene is moving west-northwest at 8 miles (13 kilometers) per hour, with a turn toward the west forecast today, the center said in a bulletin at about 7 a.m. CDT. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph, the center said. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its wind speed reaches 74 mph.

The government of Mexico has issued a tropical storm warning for the coast of northeastern Mexico from Barra de Nautla northward to Bahia Algodones, the center said. “Arlene is expected to make landfall along the northeastern coast of Mexico within the warning area early on Thursday.”

The storm is about 175 miles east of Tampico, Mexico, where some oil is exported. It is north of the Bay of Campeche, where the country’s largest crude field, Cantarell, is located.

Arlene is forecast to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain over the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz and eastern San Luis Potosi and up to 15 inches over mountainous terrain, according to the center. A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 2 feet above normal tide levels along the coast.

‘Little’ U.S. Impact

The system will have “little impact” in the U.S., Accuweather Inc. said in an e-mail.

“However, moisture will work across Mexico this weekend and some could work north into the Southwest deserts Tuesday and Wednesday next week,” according to the weather forecaster.

The storm is unlikely to threaten the U.S. oil industry, according to Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “A strong ridge of high pressure is going to keep it bottled up,” he said.

Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company and Latin America’s largest crude producer, has wells in the area. Mexico is the second-largest oil exporter to the U.S. and provided 1.19 million barrels a day in March, the latest month for which U.S. Energy Department figures are available.

It may be “well into July” before any storms threaten oil installations, Masters said.

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