Tropical Storm Hermine heads for Mexico-Texas coast

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Tropical Storm Hermine formed in the southwest Gulf of Mexico today and strengthened slightly as it moved towards the coast of northeast Mexico and southern Texas, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect from Tampico, Mexico to the south Texas coast from the Rio Grande River to Baffin Bay, the Miami-based centre said.

On its current track, Hermine does not threaten the main concentration of US oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hermine, the eighth tropical storm of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season, was at 7am located about 185 miles southeast of Tampico, Mexico and about 280 miles southeast of Brownsville, Texas.

Its maximum sustained winds had increased to near 45 miles per hour, and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 105 miles to the east of its centre

"The centre of Hermine is expected to approach the coast of northeastern Mexico or extreme southern Texas in the warning area early Tuesday morning," the hurricane centre said.

Some additional strengthening was forecast before Hermine made landfall early on Tuesday and its inland-bound track would shift it out of the Gulf of Mexico into southern Texas.

Hermine was expected to produce heavy rain over the northeast Mexico and south Texas border area and this could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially over higher terrain in northeastern Mexico, the centre said.

In the Atlantic, the remnant low of Tropical Storm Gaston continued to move westwards and had a high chance of reforming as a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the hurricane centre said. At 8am, it was located about 400 miles east of the northern Caribbean Leeward Islands.

The hurricane centre said heavy rains and gusty winds from this system should begin to affect portions of the Leeward Islands later today.

US forecasters say Gaston could threaten Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica or the Turks and Caicos Islands in the coming days, depending on its track.

But it was still too early to tell whether Gaston could eventually threaten the US Gulf of Mexico, where major US oil and gas production and refining operations are located, or Florida.