POLITICS

Tropical Storm Alberto weakens over northeast Mexico after heavy rains killed 3

Jun 19, 2024, 10:21 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2024, 12:40 pm

TAMPICO, Mexico (AP) — Tropical Storm Alberto, the season’s first named storm, weakened Thursday as it moved inland over northeast Mexico after bringing heavy rains to parts of the parched region and leaving at least three dead.

The storm was weakening rapidly over land and was downgraded to a tropical depression by the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

But forecasters said heavy rain amounting to several inches was still expected inland in Mexico’s Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila states. South Texas was forecast to see diminishing rain Thursday.

Immediately after it moved ashore in Tampico, there was initial disappointment at the meager amount of rain that fell. Showers had been sporadic through the early morning with the sun even breaking through at times.

“We had hoped that it would come because water is so needed here, but at far as I can tell it went somewhere else,” said Tampico resident Marta Alicia Hernández.

But inland heavy rain was causing damage in the neighboring states of Nuevo Leon and Veracruz.

There, civil protection authorities reported three deaths linked to Alberto’s rains. They said one man died in the La Silla river in the city of Monterrey, the state capital, and that two minors died from electric shocks in the municipality of Allende. Local media reported that the minors were riding a bicycle in the rain.

Water also washed out a segment of a major highway connecting Monterrey and Saltillo.

Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel García wrote on his account on social media platform X that metro and public transportation services would be suspended in Monterrey from Wednesday night until midday Thursday when Alberto has passed.

To the south in the state of Veracruz, 24 families were left homeless in the state capital of Xalapa after days of heavy rain collapsed a retaining wall onto three buildings.

At dawn, residents heard a deafening sound and the floor began to move.

“I thought it was an earthquake,” said Pedro Luna Sánchez, who had owned an apartment in one of the buildings for 26 years. “I looked out the window and saw my neighbor calling for help. I looked more closely and saw the wall was on top of the buildings.”

All residents were able to escape safely.

Alberto had spurred tropical storm warnings covering most of the western Gulf of Mexico’s coastline from Texas to Veracruz. The storm made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kmh).

Schools were closed across Tamaulipas state where Alberto came ashore and would be through Friday. Shelters were prepared across the state to receive residents trying to escape high water.

As much as 5 inches (13 centimeters) to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain was expected in some parts of northeast Mexico and southern Texas, with even higher isolated totals possible, according to the hurricane center. Some higher locations in Mexico could see as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, which could result in mudslides and flash flooding, especially in the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon.

Alberto was bringing rains and flooding to the coast of Texas as well.

The U.S. National Weather Service said the main hazard for southern coastal Texas is flooding from excess rain. Areas along the Texas coast saw some road flooding and dangerous rip currents Wednesday, and waterspouts were spotted offshore.

The mayor of Corpus Christi, Texas, planned to request a disaster declaration after parts of the city were drenched with up to 6 inches of rain on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said. Residents reported water and wind damage, and canals were damaged on the north side of Padre Island, Brianna Sandoval said Thursday.

Two people were rescued from vehicles that stalled over flooded roads, and a downed powerline rerouted highway traffic for part of the morning. The city remained under a flood warning.

Bert Dagnon, who closed his Salt Water Gift Shop in Galveston on Wednesday out of an abundance of caution, said it didn’t rain as much as predicted and there was little impact in the area aside from flooding in low-lying areas.

“I suspect everybody will pick up, mop up and move on,” he said Thursday, adding that he’d already had customers as skies turned partly sunny at the beach.

In Surfside Beach, a Texas city on a barrier island, storm surge early Thursday left behind some damaged roads and lots of debris, but “very little damage” to the mostly elevated structures, Mayor Gregg Bisso said.

The surge was receding by late morning and “you can almost get around now,” he said. Bisso said the island has a population of about 800 full-time residents with as many as 10,000 vacationers in the summer.

Tampico resident Octavio González was visibly disappointed in the little rain from Alberto.

“Very little water fell,” he said. “We’re on this south side of Tamaulipas with a lot of drought. And the truth is we have a lot of hope for the rain.”

___

Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle in Dallas; Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas; and Alba Alemán in Xalapa, Mexico, contributed to this report.

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