UPDATE 5-Arlene to drench wide sections of central Mexico

Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:41am GMT

* Arlene expected to drench much of central Mexico

* Storm path over Tamaulipas, oil refineries

* Storm could approach hurricane strength at landfall (Updates with details and location)

By Elinor Comlay

MEXICO CITY, June 29 (Reuters) - Large parts of central Mexico face torrential rains once Arlene, the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, makes landfall early on Thursday.

Mexican emergency services recommended communities in the storm's direct path evacuate and state oil monopoly Pemex [PEMEX.UL] was on alert for possible impact to refineries and other facilities in the storm's path.

However, the storm, which is likely to strengthen toward hurricane strength overnight, will probably not hit major offshore oil fields directly, according to forecasts from the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Mexican authorities said the storm was expected to be 435 miles (700 km) wide and drench parts of central Mexico with up to 60 inches (150 cm) of rain by Saturday, affecting areas as far away as the Pacific coast.

Arlene, moving west, had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and was located about 90 miles (145 km) east of the fishing town of Tuxpan in Veracruz state on Wednesday evening, the NHC said, adding that it could turn into a hurricane before landfall.   Continued...

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