Tropical Storm Erick nears Mexico

2013-07-05 22:31

Mexico City  - Tropical Storm Erick kicked out increasingly strong gusts as it approached Mexico's west coast port of Lazaro Cardenas on Friday and a large swath of the country braced for a deluge of rain.

The US National Hurricane Centre said Erick could dump from 80 to 200mm of rain along the Mexican coast and cause "life-threatening" flooding and mud slides.

It said the storm was located about 215km south of Lazaro Cardenas at 13:00. (18:00 GMT), packing maximum sustained winds of 100km/h.

The Mexican government extended tropical storm warnings to cover the area from the Pacific tourist resort of Zihuatanejo in Guerrero state to Cabo Corrientes in Jalisco state. The area encompasses both Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo, the country's top cargo-shipping hub.

Erick is forecast to continue strengthening over the next 48 hours and could be near hurricane strength on Saturday.

Emergency services personnel in Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo said local weather conditions were unaffected by the storm.

The NHC said Erick was expected to skirt the coast over the next couple of days as it moves west-northwest at 19km/h, but the storm's centre is not expected to make landfall.