Tropical Storm Alberto deals death, disappointment to rain-starved northeast Mexico

Beach furniture is strewn along a flooded beach.
Beach furniture is strewn along Miramar Beach in Tampico, Mexico, after Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall.
(Fabian Melendez / Associated Press)
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Tropical Storm Alberto, the season’s first named storm, weakened Thursday as it moved inland over northeast Mexico after bringing heavy rains to parts of the parched region and leaving at least three dead.

The storm was weakening rapidly over land and was downgraded to a tropical depression by the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

But forecasters said heavy rain amounting to several inches was still expected inland in Mexico’s Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila states. South Texas was forecast to see diminishing rain.


Immediately after it moved ashore in Tampico, there was initial disappointment at the meager amount of rain that fell. Showers had been sporadic through the early morning, with the sun even breaking through at times.

“We had hoped that it would come because water is so needed here, but at far as I can tell it went somewhere else,” said Tampico resident Marta Alicia Hernández.

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But inland, heavy rain was causing damage in the neighboring states of Nuevo Leon and Veracruz.

There, civil protection authorities reported three deaths linked to Alberto’s rains. They said one man died in the La Silla River in the city of Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, and two minors from electric shocks in the city of Allende in Coahuila state. Local media reported that the minors were riding a bicycle in the rain.

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Water also washed out a segment of a major highway connecting Monterrey and Saltillo.

In Veracruz state to the south, 24 families were left homeless in the state capital of Xalapa after days of heavy rain collapsed a retaining wall onto three buildings. At dawn, residents heard a deafening sound and the floor began to move.

“I thought it was an earthquake,” said Pedro Luna Sánchez, who had owned an apartment in one of the buildings for 26 years. “I looked out the window and saw my neighbor calling for help. I looked more closely and saw the wall was on top of the buildings.”


All residents were able to escape safely.

Alberto had spurred tropical storm warnings covering most of the western Gulf of Mexico’s coastline from Texas to Veracruz. The storm made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

Schools were closed through Friday across Tamaulipas state, where Alberto came ashore. Shelters were open across the state.

As much as 5 to 10 inches of rain were expected in some parts of northeast Mexico and southern Texas, with even higher isolated totals possible, according to the hurricane center. Some higher elevations in Mexico could see as much as 20 inches, which could result in mudslides and flash flooding, especially in the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon.

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Mexican authorities had downplayed the risk posed by Alberto and instead pinned their hopes on its potential to ease the parched region’s water needs. Much of Mexico has been suffering under severe drought, with northern Mexico especially hard hit.

Alberto was bringing rains and flooding to the coast of Texas.

The U.S. National Weather Service said the main hazard for southern coastal Texas was flooding from excess rain. Areas along the Texas coast saw some road flooding and dangerous rip currents, and waterspouts were spotted offshore.

Corpus Christi, Texas, residents reported water and wind damage, and canals were damaged on the north side of Padre Island, Mayor Brianna Sandoval said Thursday.


Tampico resident Octavio González was visibly disappointed in the little rain from Alberto.

“Very little water fell,” he said. “We’re on this south side of Tamaulipas with a lot of drought. And the truth is we have a lot of hope for the rain.”

Peńa writes for the Associated Press. AP writers Jamie Stengle in Dallas; Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas; and Alba Alemán in Xalapa, Mexico, contributed to this report.