‘Very large’ Storm Alberto brings floods to Gulf of Mexico coasts

‘Very large’ Storm Alberto brings floods to Gulf of Mexico coasts

By Sarah Morland and Stephanie Hamel

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, has formed over the western Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday, bringing coastal flooding across the southern U.S. coast.

The “very large” storm was located about 180 miles (290 km) east of Tampico, Mexico, packing maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph), the Miami-based forecaster said.

Alberto is likely to dissipate over Mexico as early as Thursday night, after bringing torrential rainfall, coastal flooding and strong winds from the center along north-eastern Mexico and the south Texas coast.

The NHC warned of likely “life-threatening flooding and mudslides” across north-eastern Mexico, including Monterrey, Mexico’s third-biggest city in Nuevo Leon state.

“We don’t rule out that Tropical Storm Alberto could intensify to a Category 1 hurricane”, Alejandra Mendez, who heads Mexico’s SMN national meteorological service, told a news conference, citing water temperatures above 31°C (88°F).

Hurricanes have sustained wind speeds of at least 119 kph.

Mendez added the storm was interacting with formations in the Pacific, which will together bring rains over large parts of Central America, a region that is still facing strong rainfall that left some 11 people dead in El Salvador over the weekend, due to landslides and road accidents.

The storm has gathered up humidity from both the Gulf and the Pacific Ocean, Mendez said, and should bring much-needed rain over swathes of Mexico, which has suffered from an extended drought that has drained the country’s dams.

Some dams, especially in the north-eastern Tamaulipas state, are as little as 8% full.

Nuevo Leon state Governor Samuel Garcia said people should avoid leaving the house when it is raining and workers were ready to address possible impacts on the electricity grid, water and sewage systems.

In the United States as far as Louisiana, videos showed flooded coastal towns and water smashing into sea walls, while in Tamaulipas, videos shared on social media showed ominous gray skies as forecasters warned Alberto could bring waves as high as 20 feet (6 meters).

Across the Gulf on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, local news outlets filmed strong winds and heavy rainfall, after authorities recorded as much as 192 millimeters in the last day.

The NHC predicted “moderate coastal flooding” along much of the Texan coast through Thursday, while Mexican forecasters expect further weekend rains in the south from another formation over the Caribbean.

Forecasters have warned that this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will likely be highly active due to impacts from the La Nina weather pattern and warmer ocean waters.

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