Hurricane Barbara churned along Mexico's southern Pacific coast Wednesday with sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm made landfall in the state of Chiapas, a sparsely populated region about 20 miles west of Tonala, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. She was moving north-northeast at 10 mph.
Meteorologists expect Barbara to cruise over southeastern Mexico on Wednesday night into Thursday, during which time the storm is expected to quickly weaken.
A hurricane warning was in effect between Puerto Angel to Barra de Tonala, which includes Oaxaca and Tonala. The hurricane is expected to pour between 6 to 10 inches of rain over eastern Oaxaca and western Chiapas.
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As many as 20 inches are possible in southeastern Oaxaca, where officials rushed to prepare emergency storm shelters in 20 towns and hamlets, and classes for children were cancelled for the rest of the week for coastal children.
"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides," the hurricane center warned.
The stretch of land is a largely undeveloped swath of coastal lagoons, containing small fishing villages. The major oil port of Coatzacoalcos sits on the opposite side of a narrow stretch known as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The center said the storm should weaken rapidly well before it reaches Coatzacoalcos.
While the remnants of Hurricane Barbara may enter the Gulf of Mexico on the other side of the isthmus, Mexico's National Meteorological Service said "it will be so weakened that it's unlikely to regain strength."
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