(Updates with Mexican oil port opening in sixth paragraph.)
Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel will cause heavy rains and life-threatening floods in eastern and southern Mexico. Ingrid may become a hurricane later today.
“This will remain a significant hazard over the next couple of days,” the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said in a statement. “The moist flow resulting from the combination of Manuel and tropical storm Ingrid in the bay of Campeche will produce torrential rains and life-threatening flooding over eastern Mexico.”
The Mexican government issued a hurricane watch for Ingrid’s path on the Gulf coast and the U.S. hurricane center said it is expected to become a hurricane later today before approaching the coast on Sept. 16.
Tropical Storm Manuel gained strength today in the Pacific. The storm is creating “torrential rains” with as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) expected over the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, the hurricane center said in its latest advisory. Ingrid may produce as much as 15 inches of rain over eastern Mexico, with isolated areas in the mountains receiving as much as 25 inches, the center said.
Ingrid, the ninth tropical storm of the Atlantic season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, is currently drifting west across the Bay of Campeche where Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company known as Pemex, has its two largest oil fields. They produce about 1.25 million barrels a day.
Pemex suspended air and sea operations at its rigs in the bay, according to a company statement. The oil port of Dos Bocas closed on Sept. 12 because of adverse weather conditions, while the Cayo Arcas port, which processes about 68 percent of Mexico’s crude exports, re-opened today, the country’s Merchant Marine said in its daily weather bulletin.
Ingrid was 145 miles (233 kilometers) northeast of Veracruz and moving north at 8 mph as of 10 a.m. Mexico City time today, according to the center in Miami. Storm tracking aircraft found Ingrid growing stronger, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, up from 65 mph a few hours earlier. The storm will begin drifting northward today and pick up speed moving toward the northwest tomorrow, the center said.
The slow motion of the storm may allow it to strengthen because it is over warm water, from which tropical systems can draw power, said Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
“This thing could ramp up to a very strong tropical storm and it may become a Category 1 hurricane,” Kottlowski said.
Manuel became the 13th storm of the Pacific season, which begins on May 15. It was about 125 miles south of Lazaro Cardenas with top winds of 50 mph and is expected to gain strength through the weekend. The storm was stationary and is expected to turn northwestward today and approach the coast of southwestern Mexico by early tomorrow. Manuel is expected to make landfall tomorrow, the center said.
On the Atlantic coast, a hurricane watch is in effect from La Pesca to north of Cabo Rojo and a tropical storm warning is in place farther south to Coatzacoalcos, according to the center. A tropical storm warning remained in effect as Manuel approached the Pacific coast, from Punta San Telmo to Acapulco.
On its current track, Ingrid won’t be a threat to U.S. production areas in the Gulf of Mexico, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Gulf is home to about 5.6 percent of U.S. gas output, 23 percent of crude production and more than 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity, Energy Department data show.
Rogers said clouds and rain from Ingrid may cross into Texas next week, bringing cooler temperatures that will dull electricity demand across the state.
The main impact of the two storms will be “mammoth rainfall amounts” across southern Mexico, said Michael Schlacter, founder of Weather 2000 Inc. in New York.
“The worst thing for heavy rain are hills, mountains and mud,” Schlacter said by telephone. “The consequences for humanitarian purposes are just that more horrific.”
Schlacter said it’s possible heavy rain will fall across southern Mexico for the next five days.
The hurricane center was also tracking Humberto, now a post-tropical cyclone, which was about 980 miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It was heading west-northwest at 13 mph and isn’t a threat to land.
Tropical Depression Gabrielle was absorbed by a cold front today. Its remnants were bringing heavy rain to Canada’s Atlantic coast.
--With assistance from Jonathan Roeder in Mexico City, Ann Koh in Singapore, Firat Kayakiran in London, Dan Hart in Washington and Nathan Gill in Quito. Editors: Peter J.Brennan, Andrew Reierson