Powerful rainfall continues to hammer parts of Mexico as Tropical Storm Arlene, the first tropical system of the 2011 hurricane season, made landfall with a vengeance in Mexico early Thursday morning.
The rain power and strong wind gusts have forced residents to stay inside ultimately stopping business as usual in the northeastern part of the country.
Nearly 8 inches of rainfall has poured down on Vera Cruz and 5.50 inches of rain has hit the west coast of Acapulco in the past 48 hours alone.
Bill Deger, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said the center of the storm came ashore at Cabo Rojo, Mexico, which is just to the south of Tampico, around 4:00 a.m. central time, packing estimated maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, with even higher gusts.
“There was a possibility that the storm could have reached hurricane status, which is marked at 74 mph or stronger,” Deger said in his report.
“However, in the few hours prior to landfall this did not come to fruition.”
It was reported that Mexican officials declared a state of alert of Pemex PEMEX.UL, which is the country’s major oil refinery.
The Mexican refinery is located south of Tampico, where Arlene made landfall.
Officials reported the refinery was still operating as usual but had secured tankers and other equipment prior to the storm.
Pemex dolls out about 190,000 gallons of oil a day.
"The hurricane warning will likely be discontinued later this morning," the NHC said.
According to the latest update on Thursday, Arlene is weakening as it moves farther inland, now with winds at 50 mph.
Still, expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski pointed out that there is a "substantial risk to lives and property" due to mudslides across the rugged terrain in the path of Arlene's heavy rain.
Along the Rio Grande Valley and through southern Texas, rainfall amounts will be less but could exceed an inch in a few locations around Brownsville, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
U.S. Gulf Coast residents should be on the lookout for increased rip currents, high waves and tidal flooding. Beachgoers and operators of small crafts should exercise extreme caution until Arlene moves far enough inland to limit the threat, the NHC said.
Factors about storm surges you should know:
A storm surge is produced by water being pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds moving cyclonically around the storm.
The impact on surge of the low pressure associated with intense storms is minimal in comparison to the water being forced toward the shore by the wind.
A storm surge is a powerful killer. For instance, a storm surge of 23 ft. has the ability to inundate 67 percent of interstates, 57 percent of arterials, almost half of rail miles, 29 airports, and virtually all ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast region.