Tropical Storm Earl Weakens as It Moves West Over Belizeby
Weak system may graze oil-rich Bay of Campeche Friday
Heavy rains, mudslides possible across Belize, Mexico
Tropical Storm Earl will continue to weaken as it crosses Belize after coming ashore early Thursday with drenching rains and hurricane-strength winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Earl was 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Belize City with top winds of 65 miles per hour, down from 80 mph earlier, the Miami-based hurricane center said in an 8 a.m. advisory. The storm was moving west at 15 mph and is forecast skirt the southern edge of Mexico’s Bay of Campeche Friday as a depression, the weakest tropical system.
“It may never emerge back out over the Bay of Campeche,” said Paul Walker, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “It may stay over land the whole time and continue to weaken.”
State-owned Petroleos Mexicanos said Wednesday it won’t evacuate any of its oil platforms and rigs in the Bay of Campeche. The company, known as Pemex, produces more than three-quarters of its crude from the Gulf of Mexico, which includes the Bay.
Mexico has dropped all storm advisories associated with Earl and Belize has downgraded hurricane warnings to tropical storm alerts. As much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain may still fall across parts of southern Mexico. Regions of Belize and Guatemala could get as much as 18 inches.
The deluge can cause flash floods and life-threatening mudslides, the center said. Belize has opened shelters for residents around the country.