AMBERGIS CAYE, Belize – A weak tropical storm became the first named storm of the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season, dumping rain as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.
Tropical Storm Arthur kicked up surf when it made landfall at the Belize-Mexico border Saturday and headed west with maximum sustained winds near 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
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The storm formed one day before the official start of the season June 1, hitting land near the Mexican port city of Chetumal and Belize's Corozal city. It dumped rain as far south as Belize City and kicked up strong surf on the popular tourist island of Ambergis Caye.
Tropical storm warnings were issued for Belize and Mexico's Caribbean coastline.
The hurricane center said Arthur could dump five to 10 inches of rain over portions of Belize and Guatemala, and up to 15 inches in southeastern Mexico. It warned the rains could cause life-threatening floods and mudslides.
In the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which includes the popular resort of Cancun, ports were closed and all water sports were banned. Residents and tourists were encouraged to take precautions in coastal areas, said state Civil Protection Director Carlos Rodriguez Hoy.
Ports were also closed on the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres and in Chetumal.
In northern Belize, the National Emergency Management Organization warned of possible flooding around the Azul Hondo River.
Rain and rough seas ruined vacations for tourists in Ambergis Caye.
"I just came to lay in the sun and get a nice tan, but so far there hasn't been any sunshine," said Debbie Fountaineau, a police officer from Lake Charles, Louisiana, who arrived on the island Thursday.
The storm was projected to weaken as it crosses the Yucatan before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical depression early Sunday.
There was chance it could strengthen back into a tropical storm before hitting Mexico again south of Veracruz, said Jamie Rhome, a meteorologist with the Hurricane Center. It was not expected to become a hurricane.
At 5 a.m. CDT, the center of the storm was inland about 115 miles south-southeast of Campeche, Mexico. It was moving west at about 7 miles per hour. Its maximum sustained winds were near 40 miles per hour.
The storm was expected to stay well away from the U.S. Gulf Coast.