VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — The Atlantic season's first tropical storm hit Mexico's central Gulf coast Thursday, hurling heavy rains over a wide swath of the country.
The heart of Tropical Storm Arlene struck land near Cabo Rojo, a cape just off the mainland between the cities of Tampico and Tuxpan. It had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) and was moving inland at 8 mph (13 kph), said the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Coastal towns appear to have escaped serious damage from the initial storm. Tree branches fell, water accumulated on some streets and a neighborhood of Tuxpan lost electricity, civil protection authorities reported.
"There aren't any major problems, (and) we hope 'Arlene' will be out of sight by midday," Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte tweeted Thursday morning. He credited preparations ahead of the storm.
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Officials in the states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas, and San Luis Potosi had guarded against possible flooding by closing schools, mobilizing emergency medical units and preparing evacuation shelters as rain fell on coastal and mountain regions.
Rain was accumulating in the mountains, where authorities were on guard for possible landslides and flooding. Schools in parts of Veracruz remained closed and heavy machinery and dump trucks have been brought into the area in case they are needed.
Tropical storm force winds from the storm extended as far as 205 miles (335 kilometers), but mainly east of the center, over the Gulf and away from land.
Mexico's national weather service said 6 inches (150 millimeters) of rain had fallen over a 24-hour period in northern Veracruz state. Some isolated mountainous areas inland could get up to 15 inches (375 millimeters) of rain, the hurricane center said.
Forecasters said extreme south Texas also could get rain.
Arlene was projected to weaken later Thursday and dissipate on Friday.
The main threat to Mexico comes from heavy rains that could cause flash floods and mudslides in 13 states, the government said.
Rains could be welcome in Tamaulipas, where they would fall on soil dried out by the most severe drought to hit the area in 50 years. There is still unrepaired damage from Hurricane Alex, which struck the area as a Category 2 hurricane last year.