Alberto, Season’s First Named Tropical Storm, Dumps Rain on Texas and Mexico

Winds from Tropical Storm Alberto blow sea foam inland, Wednesday, in Surfside Beach, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

TAMPICO, Mexico (AP) — Tropical Storm Alberto rumbled toward northeast Mexico early Thursday as the first named storm of the season, carrying heavy rains that left three people dead but also brought hope to a region suffering under a prolonged, severe drought.

Mexican authorities downplayed the risk posed by Alberto and instead pinned their hopes on its ability to ease the parched region’s water needs.

“The [wind] speeds are not such as to consider it a risk,” said Tamaulipas State Secretary of Hydrological Resources Raúl Quiroga Álvarez during a news conference late Wednesday. Instead, he suggested people greet the storm happily. “This is what we’ve been for for eight years in all of Tamaulipas.”

Much of Mexico has been suffering under severe drought, with northern Mexico especially hard hit. Quiroga noted that the state’s reservoirs were low and Mexico owed the United States a massive water debt in their shared use of the Rio Grande.

“This is a win-win event for Tamaulipas,” he said.

But in nearby Nuevo Leon state, civil protection authorities reported three deaths linked to Alberto’s rains. They said one man died in the La Silla river in the city of Monterrey, the state capital, and that two minors died from electric shocks in the municipality of Allende. Local media reported that the minors were riding a bicycle in the rain.

Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel García wrote on his account on social media that metro and public transportation services would be suspended in Monterrey from Wednesday night until midday Thursday when Alberto has passed.

Late Wednesday, Alberto was located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Tampico, Mexico, and about 250 miles (402 kilometers) south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The storm was moving west at 13 miles per hour.

Alberto was bringing rains and flooding to the coast of Texas as well.

The U.S. National Weather Service said the main hazard for southern coastal Texas is flooding from excess rain. On Wednesday the NWS said there is “a high probability” of flash flooding in southern coastal Texas. Tornadoes or waterspouts are possible.

Areas along the Texas coast were seeing some road flooding and dangerous rip currents Wednesday, and waterspouts were spotted offshore.

In Mexico, residents expressed hope for Alberto bringing rain.

Authorities closed schools for the remainder of the week in Tamaulipas as there could be localized flooding.

As much as 5-10 inches (13-25 centimeters) of rain was expected in some areas along the Texas coast, with even higher isolated totals possible, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some higher locations in Mexico could see as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, which could result in mudslides and flash flooding, especially in the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon.

Alberto was casting rain showers on both sides of the border, extending up much of the south Texas coast and south to Mexico’s Veracruz state.

Alberto was expected to rapidly weaken over land and dissipate Thursday.

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