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Tropical Storm Tara drenching parts of Mexico: flooding, mudslides, crop losses

As clean up and recovery continue in the southern U.S. from Hurricane Michael, there’s a new storm brewing south of the border. 

Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center were watching a tropical disturbance off the west the coast of Mexico last weekend. Early on Monday a center of circulation developed and sustained winds got strong enough to name the storm – Tropical Storm Tara. It’s the 19th named storm of the eastern Pacific hurricane season. 

The storm was centered 40 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico early Tuesday afternoon with sustained winds of 40 mph. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Manzanillo to Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for east of Manzanillo to Punta San Telmo, Mexico. 

While Tara is forecast to remain close to the coast or move inland during the next 24 to 48 hours, its winds will likely weaken a bit. However, winds could still be strong enough to produce damage, mainly localized to the immediate coastlines of Colima and Jalisco, and thunderstorms elsewhere could produce locally damaging winds. Rough surf and dangerous rip currents also pose a threat. The National Meteorological Service of Mexico is also tracking the storm and issuing Warnings. 

Tara could produce 5 to 10 inches of rain over the Mexican states of Colima and western Jalisco through tonight. Isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches are possible over Colima and western Jalisco.  These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in mountainous terrain. 

Depending on how far inland the flooding occurs, there may be losses of crops. livestock, and other businesses. According to Encyclopedia Britannica,  Jalisco’s economy is based mainly on agriculture and other primary production, and is one of the largest in Mexico. Its chief crops are corn (maize), wheat, and beans in the uplands and sugarcane, cotton, rice, and tobacco in the warmer districts. Jalisco is also one of Mexico’s top producers of beef and pork from livestock raised in the highlands. 

Transportation and vacations might be interrupted, too. Rail and highway networks in Jalisco are extensive, linking Guadalajara with Mexico City and other population area. Guadalajara is served by one of the country’s busiest airports and is one of the state’s major tourist centers. Puerto Vallarta is likewise a popular tourist destination. 

Many types of fruits are grown in the state of Colima, just south of Jalisco. According to Nations Encyclopedia, Colima is Mexico’s second-largest producer of coconuts. Palms are also cultivated for use in landscaping, and palm fibers are used to weave hats, placemats, floor mats, and other items.

The extent of human and economic loss from Tara remains to be seen. The storm may no longer be a threat late-week as if it moves far enough away from the coast, but by then the damage could be done.

  (Source: NOAA)
(Source: NOAA)

 

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.
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