|Tropical storm Arlene caused widespread flooding and left thousands homeless when it hit Mexico on Thursday [EPA]|
Mexican authorities have confirmed that the death toll from tropical storm Arlene has risen to 11.
Arlene was the first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season and as tropical storms go, it was a powerful one. As the storm made landfall the winds were only just below that of hurricane strength.
The storm crossed the east coast of Mexico in the early hours of Thursday morning, close to the fishing town of Tuxpan in Veracruz state. It tore down trees and powerlines as it struck and thousands of people had to be evacuated as the flood waters rose.
Once over land, Arlene started to dissipate and the winds eased. However, the rain was heavy, and the storm also intensified the showers across the rest of the country too.
The remains of the storm have now cleared the west coast of Mexico and are now drifting away from land, but the rains over the country remain heavy. There is still the risk that more flash flooding and mudslides will be reported in the next few days.
Aiding the drought
Although Arlene swamped some parts of Mexico, it has also brought some relief to other parts of the region. Much of Mexico and many southern states of the USA are currently in a drought.
For Mexico, it is the worst drought for 50 years. It started in the northeast of the country and gradually spread southwards. The parched vegetation became tinder wood, perfect for the spread of wildfires. Over 245,000 acres of Coahuila state were burned, some of the largest fires in Mexico’s history.
Tropical storm Arlene has brought some relief to many drought-hit areas, including Coahuila, and even across the border in neighbouring Texas. The rain here was mostly confined to the south, but any rain is welcome.
Showers trailing from Arlene even reached as far away as Florida, which is also suffering from a lack of rain. This helped bump up the rainfall totals in the state, with Jacksonville receiving 62mm rain in the last six days of June, half its monthly average.
Even though the storm has now passed, Mexico is expecting more rain in the next few days. Hopefully this will bring more benefits than harm to the parched region.