XALAPA, Mexico – Tropical Storm Manuel bore down on Mexico’s southwest Pacific shoreline Sunday as thousands on the country’s Gulf rim sought shelter from approaching Hurricane Ingrid amid threats of heavy rains and dangerous flash floods and mudslides along both coasts.
Manuel and Ingrid appeared set to wallop Mexico with a one-two punch and mar several planned observances of the country’s Sept. 15 and 16 Independence Day celebrations.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ingrid, the second hurricane of the Atlantic storm season, could reach the Mexican mainland early Monday after gathering strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was packing top sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph).
Manuel, sustaining maximum winds of 70 mph (110 kph), was about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the Pacific coast near the Mexican port city of Lazaro Cardenas early Sunday. Forecasters said that storm was moving toward expected landfall.
The Mexican government late Saturday issued a hurricane warning for the country’s Pacific Coast from Lazaro Cardenas to Manzanillo. That came as forecasters said early Sunday that Manuel still had a small possibility of becoming a hurricane before its center reached land. The storm was expected to rapidly weaken once it began heading into the Mexican interior.
Forecasters warned, meanwhile, that both storms presented dangers.
Manuel was expected to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain over parts of the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero with maximums of 25 inches possible in some isolated areas. Authorities said those rains would present an especially dangerous threat in mountains, where flash floods and mudslides were possible.
Hurricane Ingrid also was expected to dump very heavy rains. It was centered early Sunday about 160 miles (290 km) east of Tampico, Mexico, and moving northwest at 7 mph (11 km). A hurricane warning from Ingrid was in effect from Cabo Rojo to La Pesca.
In Tamaulipas state to the north, where Ingrid is expected to make landfall, the government said in a statement that Independence Day festivities were cancelled in the cities of Tampico, Madero and Altamira. The Sept. 15 and 16 celebrations commemorate Mexico’s battle of independence from Spain.
Officials in the Gulf state of Veracruz began evacuating coastal residents Friday night, and civil protection authorities said that more than 5,300 people had been moved to safer ground. Of those, about 3,500 people were being housed in official shelters with the rest staying with family and friends. There were no immediate reports of injuries blamed on the storm.
More than 1,000 homes in Veracruz state have been affected by the storm to varying degrees, and 20 highways and 12 bridges have suffered damages, according to the state’s civil protection authority.
A bridge collapsed near the northern Veracruz city of Misantla on Friday, cutting off the area from the state capital. Thirteen people died when a landslide buried their homes in heavy rains spawned by Tropical Depression Fernand on Monday.
State officials imposed an orange alert, the highest possible, in parts of southern Veracruz.