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Tropical Storm Arlene Hits Mexico's Gulf Coast
MEXICO CITY: The first named Atlantic storm of the year barrelled into Mexico's eastern coast on Thursday at near hurricane strength, dumping heavy rains and lashing the Gulf coast with strong surf.
The US National Weather Service said the eye of Tropical Storm Arlene was over Cabo Rojo in Mexico's Veracruz state at 1200 GMT, packing sustained winds of 100 kilometres per hour, with higher gusts.
While the storm is due to push inland, "weakening is forecast today and Arlene is expected to dissipate on Friday," it said in a bulletin.
Arlene was moving west at around 13 kilometres per hour, and was forecast to dump between 10-20 centimetres of rain over eastern Mexico, with isolated maximum amounts of 38 centimetres over mountainous terrain.
The weather service warned that the rains "could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage as the storm made landfall before dawn.
The weather service warned that the storm surge will raise water levels by as much one metre above normal tide levels. "Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves," it said.
Veracruz declared a "red alert" on Wednesday and the neighbouring Tamaulipas state had gone on slightly less urgent "orange alert."
State-run oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) had also issued an alert for its facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, ensuring that safety measures were implemented for its platforms and that ships were secured.
Mexico was lashed last year by what the government described as the wettest rainy season on record. Tropical storms and hurricanes caused flooding and mudslides that killed dozens of people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.