Ingrid Becomes Second Hurricane as Storms Threaten Mexico

Hurricane Ingrid, bearing down on eastern Mexico as Tropical Storm Manuel came ashore on the country’s Pacific coast, will probably make landfall early tomorrow, with both storms expected to bring life-threatening floods.

The second hurricane of the Atlantic season is about 110 miles (177 kilometers) east-northeast of the Mexican city of Tampico and is expected to dump as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain over a large part of eastern Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said in a statement. Ingrid has maximum sustained winds near 75 mph.

The storm is moving west-northwest at 6 miles per hour and a hurricane warning is in effect for Cabo Rojo to La Pesca, according to the statement. Slight strengthening is possible before the center of Ingrid nears the coast tomorrow morning, the hurricane center said.

“Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning area early Monday, with tropical storm conditions expected tonight,” the hurricane center said. “These rains are likely to result in life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.”

The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for Ingrid’s path yesterday, and the U.S. hurricane center said a hurricane warning in effect from Zihantanejo to Manzanillo on the Pacific coast was downgraded to a tropical storm warning as Manuel made landfall near Manzanillo and began to weaken.

Mexico Evacuations

Mexico’s Reforma newspaper reported yesterday that 6,000 people had been evacuated in the state of Vera Cruz along the Gulf coast, while Universal newspaper said last night that 14 people had died during torrential rains caused by Manuel.

Tropical Storm Manuel was about 15 miles north of Manzanillo, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds near 50 miles per hour, and likely to also create life-threatening flash floods with as much as 15 inches of rain expected over the Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacan, the hurricane center said in its latest advisory. Manuel was moving northwest at about 9 mph, and was expected to continue for the next day or so.

Ingrid yesterday was 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 yesterday. The oil ports of Cayo Arcas, which processes about 68 percent of Mexico’s crude exports, and Dos Bocas were closed, the country’s Merchant Marine said today in its daily weather bulletin.

Slow Motion

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

Manuel became the 13th storm of the Pacific season, which began May 15. On its current track, Ingrid won’t be a threat to U.S. production areas in the Gulf of Mexico, Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, said yesterday.

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.

‘Mammoth Rainfall’

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,” 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 five days.

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