Tropical storm churns toward Baja, rain across northern Mexico

Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

MEXICO CITY -- Tropical Storm Ileana churned past the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula Tuesday and headed out to sea, while tropical storm Beryl moved inland, dumping rain on Texas and northern Mexico as it weakened.

Ileana doused the Baja resort towns of Los Cabos with rain, but nothing too severe, said Randy Lehr, the American manager of the Hacienda Beach Resort in Cabo San Lucas.

It looks like we got lucky, and the storm passed by to the south, Lehr said in a telephone interview. Guests at his hotel were warned to stay out of the ocean, and some whiled away the time playing pool.

The Mexican government declared a hurricane warning for Los Cabos and areas slightly north, as the storms center whirled past about 50 miles south of the peninsula.

There hasnt been any damage so far, and the communications systems are working fine, Baja California state spokesman Juan Antonio Flores said.

Ileana, currently with winds of 70 mph, may strengthen to reach hurricane status, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

Civil defense authorities in Los Cabos met to monitor the storm as it brushed by, moving west at about 12 mph. They had previously reported some outages in local telephone service due to the rains.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Beryl lumbered ashore on Mexicos northeast coast Tuesday, swirling into land over a sparsely populated stretch of coast about 110 miles south of the border cities of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros in Mexico.

The storm quickly weakened to tropical depression status as it dropped rain over northern Mexico, and the Mexican government discontinued most storm warnings for coastal areas.

The hurricane center reported Beryl could cause rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, but predicted the system would probably dissipate by Wednesday.

Beryls winds had fallen to about 35 mph, and the weakening system was moving roughly west at about 9 mph.

Residents were evacuated from two low-lying fishing villages in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas and taken to improvised shelters at schools and a sports complex, the government news agency Notimex reported.

The National Weather Service canceled hurricane and tropical storm warnings for South Texas, where some heavy showers were reported.

Farmers in Texas said they hoped the thunderstorms would weaken the chokehold of a lingering drought. Showers were to continue throughout the day Tuesday and bring several inches of rain.

The storms also promised to refill dwindling reservoirs along the Rio Grande, National Weather Service forecaster Tim Speece said.

Im not going to go out on a limb and say itll end the drought, period, Speece said. But itll definitely have an effect.

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