Hurricane Earl to Weaken After Making Landfall Near Belize City

  • Earl set reach oil-rich Bay of Campeche by Friday night
  • Pemex refinery in Veracruz is on Earl’s track: Bloomberg map

Earl reached hurricane strength as it made landfall near Belize City, but is expected to weaken to a tropical depression on Friday when it reaches Mexico’s Bay of Campeche, where Petroleos Mexicanos operates offshore oil rigs.

Earl was 50 miles (75 kilometers) west south-west of Belize City with top winds of 75 miles per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a special advisory at 5 a.m. New York time.

“The center of Earl is expected to move across central and northern Belize this morning, move across northern Guatemala and the southern Yucatan Peninsula later today, and be near or over the southern Bay of Campeche Friday night,” the center said in an update on its website. “Earl is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm later this morning and to a tropical depression by Friday morning.”

Forecasts for Earl’s track have drifted south over the past 24 hours, lessening the possibility of a direct hit on oil operations in the Bay of Campeche, which is part of the Gulf of Mexico. More than three-quarters of the crude produced by state-owned Pemex comes from the Gulf.

Pemex, which produced 2.18 million barrels of oil a day in the second quarter, said it’s monitoring Earl’s progress.

Deadly Floods

Earl will generate 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of rain over parts of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico’s states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Veracruz through Friday morning. Isolated incidences of up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) in those countries could produce deadly floods and mudslides, the center said.

A Pemex-operated refinery in Minatitlan in the state of Veracruz is on the hurricane’s track, according to BMAP, a Bloomberg map function. The refinery processed about 150,000 barrels a day of crude in June, according to statistics from the Energy Information Agency.

Earl was the fifth named storm in the Atlantic this year, a milestone that typically occurs by Aug. 31, according to the hurricane center. A normal Atlantic season usually produces 12 such storms.

A system gets a name when its winds reach 39 mph and it becomes a tropical storm. In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 10 to 16 storms would form this year. A storm becomes a hurricane once winds exceed 74 mph.

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