Tropical Storm Fernand lashes Mexico’s Gulf coast

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Fernand hit land along a sparsely populated stretch of Mexico’s upper Gulf coast Wednesday afternoon, dumping heavy rains and raising fears of flash floods and mudslides.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Fernand had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) Wednesday and was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of La Pesca, Mexico. It was moving to the west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) and was expected to continue in that direction, staying south of the Texas border.

Forecasts say the storm could drop 6 to 12 inches of rain, with as much as 18 inches in isolated spots along the coast and in the Sierra Madre Oriental range. Fernand is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain in South Texas.

The civil defense office in the north Mexican state of Nuevo Leon said rivers were already rising there. Classes were cancelled on Wednesday, and some schools were made ready as temporary shelters.

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Forecasters said the storm should dissipate over land on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Juliette was moving away from shore and weakening far off Mexico’s Pacific coast.