Tropical Systems Flank Southern Mexico Bringing Flash Floods

Tropical Storm Ingrid drenched southern Mexico from the Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Manuel formed in the Pacific, threatening even more rain.

The two systems will probably bring at least 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain throughout southern Mexico, with 25 inches possible in some areas, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Tropical storm warnings were posted on both coasts.

“These rains are likely to result in life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in mountainous terrain,” the center said.

Ingrid, the ninth tropical storm of the Atlantic season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, is currently drifting west across the Bay of Campeche where Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company known as Pemex, has its two largest oil fields. They produce about 1.25 million barrels a day.

Pemex suspended air and sea operations at its rigs in the bay, according to a company statement. The oil ports of Cayo Arcas, which processes about 68 percent of Mexico’s crude exports, and Dos Bocas were closed.

Storm Positions

Ingrid was 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Veracruz with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour as of 4 p.m. Mexico City time, according to the center in Miami. The system was stationary.

The slow motion of the storm may allow it to strengthen because it is over very warm water from which tropical systems can draw power, said Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

“This thing could ramp up to a very strong tropical storm and it may become a Category 1 hurricane,” Kottlowski said.

Manuel became the 13th storm of the Pacific season, which begins on May 15. It was about 150 miles south of Zihuatanejo with top winds of 40 mph and was moving west-northwest at 6 mph.

On the Atlantic coast, a tropical storm warning is in effect from Coatzacoalcos to Cabo Rojo and a watch is in place farther north to La Pesca, according to the center. In the Pacific, a warning has been issued from west of Lazaro Cardenas to Punta San Telmo, including Acapulco.

Ingrid is forecast to strike near Tampico, Mexico, early next week, the hurricane center said. Manuel may strike near Tecoman sometime tomorrow.

U.S. Threat

On its current track, Ingrid won’t be a threat to U.S. production areas in the Gulf of Mexico, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Gulf is home to about 5.6 percent of U.S. gas output, 23 percent of crude production and more than 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity, Energy Department data show.

Rogers said clouds and rain from Ingrid may cross into Texas next week, bringing cooler temperatures that will dull electricity demand across the state.

The main impact of the two storms will be “mammoth rainfall amounts” across southern Mexico, said Michael Schlacter, founder of Weather 2000 Inc. in New York.

“The worst thing for heavy rain are hills, mountains and mud, and those mountains climb up in a hurry,” Schlacter said by telephone. “The consequences for humanitarian purposes are just that more horrific.”

Schlacter said it’s possible heavy rain will fall across southern Mexico for the next five days.

The hurricane center was also tracking Tropical Storm Humberto, which was 815 miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. It was heading west-northwest at 12 mph and isn’t a threat to land.

Tropical Depression Gabrielle was absorbed by a cold front today. Its remnants were bringing heavy rain to Canada’s Atlantic coast.

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