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, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The storm had sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and was expected to turn north later in the week, cross the Gulf of Mexico and eventually threaten the United States.
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 Tuesday night, the Mexican army said it had helped evacuate 138 people in Calakmul, Campeche, as floodwaters rose.
On Wednesday morning, the storm was 15 miles (20 km) west of Ciudad del Carmen and moving south-southeast at 3 mph (6kph). Mexico had a tropical storm warning in effect from Campeche to Coatzacoalcos.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center expected the storm to weaken slightly as it crossed eastern Mexico Thursday and become a tropical depression Thursday evening. Then it would reenter the Gulf of Mexico and begin heading north.