Arlene to drench wide swathes of central Mexico

Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:41am GMT

* Arlene expected to drench much of central Mexico

* Storm path over Tamaulipas, oil refineries

* Likelihood of becoming hurricane decreasing

MEXICO CITY, June 30 (Reuters) - Large parts of central Mexico were facing torrential rains as Arlene, the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, neared the coast early on Thursday.

Mexican emergency services advised 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 is seen unlikely to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall and is not expected to hit major offshore oil fields directly, according to forecasts from the U.S. National Hurricane Center. But the agency said some strengthening could still occur.

Mexican authorities said the storm was expected to be 435 miles (700 km) wide and drench parts of central Mexico 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 50 miles (80 km) east of the fishing town of Tuxpan in Veracruz state on Thursday morning, the NHC said.

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