McALLEN, Texas – Tropical Storm Hermine rolled into south Texas early Tuesday, bringing heavy rains and strong winds to an area battered by Hurricane Alex earlier this summer.
Hermine made landfall in northeastern Mexico late Monday and crossed into Texas within hours, bringing with it winds of up to 65 mph (100 kph). It moved on a path similar to the one Hurricane Alex took in late June, and like that Category 1 storm, threatened to dump up to a foot of rain in some areas and cause flash flooding.
Hermine was no Alex in terms of strength. But Hermine wasn't taken lightly: Mexican emergency officials in Tamaulipas worked to evacuate 3,500 people around Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, and schools on both sides of the border canceled classes Tuesday.
By early Tuesday, the center of the storm had crossed the Rio Grande River. The National Hurricane Center said the storm was about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south-southeast of Falfurrias, Texas, and 65 miles (105 kilometers) southwest of Corpus Christi. It was moving north-northwest near 17 mph (28 kph).
A tropical storm warning was in effect from the mouth of the Rio Grande north to Port O'Connor, Texas. Tropical storm warnings that had been issued for Mexico were canceled early Tuesday.
Hours after Hermine made landfall, Coast Guard Ensign Scott Kimball said a fishing vessel had run aground at a jetty near South Padre Island. He did not have any more immediate details.
Neighborhoods lost power while Hermine's center moved over Brownsville, said Joseph Tomaselli, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Parts of the Rio Grande Valley still drying out from Alex braced for as much as eight inches of more rain.
"It doesn't take a lot of rainfall to cause any flooding down there whatsoever," Tomaselli said.
Hermine was expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain while moving north through Texas and weakening into a tropical depression. It's possible a few areas could see up to a foot of rain. Tomaselli said remnants of Hermine will be felt as far north as Oklahoma and Kansas in the coming days.
In Mexico, Hermine brought another unwelcome downpour after remnant rains from Alex killed at least 12 people in flooding.
Mexico's northeast cattle-ranching region is one of the most dangerous hotspots in the country's bloody turf war between two drug cartels. It is the same area where 72 migrants were killed two weeks ago in what it believed to be the country's worst drug gang massacre to date.
Mexican emergency officials urged those living in low-lying coastal areas to move to shelters. Classes in Matamoros and several other Mexican towns were canceled, and authorities began releasing water from some dams to make room for expected rains.
"We urge the general population to be on alert for possible floods and mudslides," said Salvador Trevino, director of civil defense for Tamaulipas, where Matamoros is located.
In inland Hidalgo state, authorities said heavy rains caused by the passing storm unleashed landslides that damaged 20 homes, left 120 people homeless and cut off small communities.
Unlike Alex, Hermine's approach to Texas brought far less anxiety. No evacuations had been ordered as of early Tuesday, and shelters throughout the flood-prone Rio Grande Valley were on standby but were still keeping their doors shut.
On South Padre Island, Hermine came too late to ruin another long weekend on the tourist hotspot. Alex plummeted Fourth of July hotel occupancies to about one-third of what the island normally sees, but most Labor Day weekend vacationers were already packing up for home by the time Hermine came into the picture.
"It really crept up on us," said Dan Quandt, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tornado watches were in effect for 16 Texas counties early Tuesday.
Associated Press Writers Jorde Vargas in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Emilio Lopez in Pachuca, Mexico, and Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.