MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Campeche Wednesday, dumping heavy rain on the already soaked region ahead of an expected eventual turn toward the United States, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The Mexican army evacuated 138 people in Campeche after floodwaters threatened homes, and police in Campeche reported water washing across highways.
The storm’s sustained winds weakened to 50 mph (85 kph) after it moved inland, where it iwas expected to weaken a bit further before heading back into the Gulf Friday, where it could gather strength again.
It was moving south-southeast at about 3 mph (96 kmh), but was expected to turn north by Thursday and start moving into the Gulf of Mexico. By Sunday it could move north and threaten the US. Gulf Coast.
But until then, forecasters expect Cristobal to meander along Mexico’s Gulf coast, causing severe flooding. The Hurricane Center said it made landfall Wednesday morning near Atasta, just west of the major oil production town of Ciudad del Carmen.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was in Campeche’s capital Wednesday as part of his weeklong tour promoting a train project. He was about 145 miles (235 kilometers) from where the storm made landfall.
Cristobal formed Tuesday from the remnants of the Pacific Tropical Storm Amanda that had caused deadly flooding and landslides in Central America. At least 22 deaths in El Salvador and Guatemala were blamed on the storm.
Cristobal was the earliest third named storm of an Atlantic hurricane season on record; in 2016, Tropical Storm Colin formed in the Gulf on June 5.
Police in Campeche state, where Ciudad del Carmen is located, said they have already closed several highways because of flooding. Forecasts call for 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain along Mexico’s Gulf coast and more in isolated areas.
On Wednesday, the storm was 15 miles (20 km) southwest of Ciudad del Carmen. Mexico had a tropical storm warning in effect from Campeche to Coatzacoalcos.