Hurricane Manuel formed off of Mexico’s Pacific coast, promising to bring new flooding as the nation struggles to clean up after two storms that killed at least 80 people and trapped thousands of tourists in the resort city of Acapulco.
Flooding rains starting last week from Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid have driven 40,000 people from their homes and stranded 40,000 more in Acapulco, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, according to the nation’s interior ministry. Another tropical system may be on its way.
“The last time the country experienced two phenomena of this nature at the same time, one in the Pacific and the other in the Gulf, was in the 1950s,” said Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, according to a transcript of remarks sent to reporters. New storms “could eventually bring rains once again, very strong and intense. This could practically be a repeat of what we’ve seen in past days, both in the Pacific and in the Gulf.”
Manuel’s top sustained winds were 75 miles (121 kilometers) per hour as of 11 p.m. New York time yesterday, making it officially a Category 1 hurricane, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Category 1 hurricanes are the lowest on a five-tiered scale and have wind speeds ranging from 74 to 95 miles per hour, enough to cause some damage to houses, trees and power lines.
The system was moving north at 3 mph about 5 miles west of Altata, with hurricane-force winds extending outward 25 miles from the storm’s center.
Mexico issued a hurricane warning for the western coast from La Cruz to Topolobampo and discontinued a tropical storm warning from La Cruz to Mazatlan. A storm watch is in place from the north of Topolobampo to Huatabampito.
“Because it’s moving so slow, it’s going to continue to generate heavy rainfall,” said Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. The center said as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain may fall in the state of Sinaloa.
Forecast models are split on where Manuel will go, Kottlowski said. Some take it north into mainland Mexico, while others have it drift west across the Baja California peninsula. The hurricane center’s forecast track takes the storm to the mainland.
Over the weekend, Manuel struck Mexico’s Pacific coast, driving heavy rains into the mountains, while at the same time Hurricane Ingrid pushed in from the Bay of Campeche. As much as 15 inches of rain were reported in some areas near the eastern coast, Kottlowski said.
More rain certainly fell in the mountains, although exact measurements have been hard to come by because many locations were cut off, he said.
Ingrid broke apart in central Mexico, while Manuel degenerated in the Pacific only to be reborn yesterday at the mouth of the Gulf of California.
Grupo Aeromexico SAB and Interjet said yesterday they’ll fly all stranded Acapulco tourists for free to Mexico City as airport conditions improve.
“Surely, due to the effects of the rainfall, which will continue, we’ll have more victims in shelters in order to protect their lives,” Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong said. “The president has ordered to continue with all resources necessary to supply food in all states where there are victims.”
A low-pressure area in the Gulf of Mexico has an 80 percent chance of becoming a tropical system in the next five days, according to the hurricane center.
Storm Jerry“Regardless of development, this disturbance will likely spread heavy rains over portions of eastern Mexico and could cause life-threatening floods and mudslides over areas already impacted by torrential rains during the last several days,” Jack Bevin, a senior hurricane specialist at the center, said in a forecast.
The system will probably become Tropical Storm Jerry soon, said Jared Smith, a meteorologist with MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
“It does seem likely that we will see something develop on this,” he said. “The biggest question mark is what exactly happens at the end of the week.”
Kottlowski said the system might be picked up by a cold front coming across Texas and pushed further north into the Gulf for a possible landfall somewhere between Louisiana and Florida. There is also a chance it will go west into Mexico, he said.
The Gulf is home to about 23 percent of U.S. crude production, 5.6 percent of gas output, and more than 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity, according to data from the Energy Department. The southern end of the Gulf, the Bay of Campeche, is where Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company known as Pemex, has its two largest oil fields, which produce about 1.25 million barrels a day.
In the Atlantic, forecasters are also tracking Tropical Storm Humberto, currently weakening 1,000 miles west-southwest of the Azores with top sustained winds of 35 mph. It isn’t an immediate threat to land.
–With assistance from Edward Welsch in Calgary, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez and Jose Enrique Arrioja in Mexico City, Brendan Case in Dallas and Ann Koh in Singapore. Editors: Alexander Kwiatkowski, Ramsey Al-Rikabi