Tropical storm Pamela weakened slightly on its way towards Mexico’s western coast, the US-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday evening, predicting that it would strengthen into a hurricane again before it hits the fertile farm state of Sinaloa.
The storm was forecast to turn northward, the NHC said in an update at 21:00 GMT, and the centre of Pamela is expected to make landfall on Wednesday morning.
“Pamela is expected to become a hurricane again before it reaches the coast of west-central Mexico Wednesday morning,” the agency said.
Pamela had been packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometres per hour (80 mph) earlier in the day on Tuesday, but the speed decreased slightly to 110 kilometres per hour (70 mph), the NHC said. The storm was already causing rain along parts of Mexico’s Pacific coast.
The Miami-based centre also warned of possible life-threatening storm surge, flash floods and dangerous winds around the impact area. Weakened remnants of the storm may reach the US state of Texas later in the week.
Pamela is expected to drench Sinaloa, which is the country’s top grower of corn, Mexico’s staple grain, as well as a major producer of tomatoes and other fruits that figure prominently in the country’s agricultural exports to the United States.
A tropical storm watch extends from the fishing village of Los Barriles on the Sea of Cortes side of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula down to the southern tip at Cabo San Lucas.
But Pamela’s fury is seen mostly heading for Mexico’s southwest mainland, with “large and destructive waves” near the coast and rainfall of between 10 and 30 centimetres (four and 12 inches) seen hitting both Sinaloa and the neighbouring state of Durango.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) October 11, 2021
“This rainfall may trigger significant and life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides,” the NHC added.
Last year, Sinaloa alone produced more than 380,000 tonnes of tomatoes, or nearly a fifth of Mexico’s national output and overwhelmingly destined for export, according to government data.
Because of its location, Mexico is often hit by tropical storms and hurricanes on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
In August, Hurricane Nora made landfall in the Pacific state of Jalisco, killing a child and leaving one person missing. Hurricane Grace left at least 11 dead in the eastern coast of Mexico’s mainland the same month.
In September, Hurricane Olaf made landfall on the Baja California Peninsula, causing minor damage.