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Planet Ark World Environment News Tropical Storm Larry Shuts Mexican Oil Ports

Date: 03-Oct-03
Country: MEXICO
Author: Elizabeth Fullerton

Mexico's government issued a hurricane watch for the coast of the Bay of Campeche from Veracruz to Campeche, where many of the nation's oil rigs are located.

A spokeswoman at Mexican state oil monopoly Pemex told Reuters that oil production and refining were as normal but that Pemex would reassess the storm's risk on Friday.

"Three ports are closed but we expect exports to resume when the storm has passed," she said. The storm did not pose an immediate threat to Mexican oil rigs.

The center of the storm system, the 12th storm of an active Atlantic hurricane season, was located about 185 miles east-northeast of Veracruz state, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 5 p.m. EDT. Larry was packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour as it drifted erratically southward, it said. The storm's motion was expected to continue in the next 24 hours and the wind strength could increase.

The shipping ports of Dos Bocas in Tabasco state, Pajaritos in the Coatzacoalcos complex in Veracruz state and Cayo Arcas in Campeche state are closed until further notice.

Tropical storm force winds could spread onshore in the Bay of Campeche later yesterday and into Friday, the hurricane center said, predicting large and dangerous battering waves.

Mexico has placed the six states on maximum alert in anticipation of intense rains caused by Larry.

"Shipping in the Gulf of Mexico will be restricted. We have very high waves," Interior Minister Santiago Creel told reporters in Mexico City.

The hurricane center said heavy rains were possible over parts of southeastern Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula and could cause life-threatening floods and mudslides.

So far this year, hurricanes and storms in Mexico have caused several deaths. In the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Kate's top winds increased to 90 mph as the storm moved west-southwestward at about 10 mph.

Kate, which has been drifting around the Atlantic for a week without threatening any land, was about 1,165 miles east-southeast of Bermuda at latitude 29.8 north and longitude 45.2 west, the hurricane center said.

The hurricane was expected to turn west in the next 24 hours, with wind strengthening.

Noted hurricane forecaster Bill Gray, a professor at Colorado State University, yesterday predicted a 35 percent probability of a tropical storm or hurricane hitting the U.S. east coast in October, above the 29 percent long-term average.

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