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Season’s first tropical storm forms

Bloomberg News / June 29, 2011

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The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, Arlene, formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and may cause “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,’’ the National Hurricane Center said.

Arlene is moving west-northwest at 7 miles an hour, with a turn toward the west forecast today, the center said yesterday. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 miles an hour and are expected to reach 60 miles an hour in the next two days, the center said. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its wind speed reaches 74 miles an hour.

“Environmental conditions appear favorable for strengthening,’’ the Miami-based center said. “Perhaps the one limiting factor for significant intensification could be the broad nature of the cyclone circulation.’’

The government of Mexico has issued a tropical storm warning for the coast of northeastern Mexico from Barra de Nautla northward to Bahia Algodones, the center said. Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the coast within the warning area late today, with the center of Arlene hitting the coast by tomorrow.

Arlene is forecast to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain over the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz and up to 12 inches over mountainous terrain, according to the center. A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 2 feet above normal tide levels along the coast.

“The surge could be accompanied by large and destructive waves,’’ the center said.

The system will have “little impact’’ in the United States, Accuweather Inc. said in an e-mail.

“However, moisture will work across Mexico this weekend and some could work north into the southwest deserts Tuesday and Wednesday next week,’’ according to the weather forecaster.

The storm is unlikely to threaten the US oil industry, according to Jeff Masters, cofounder of Weather Underground Inc. in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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