MEXICO CITY —
Tropical storm Barbara weakened to a depression as it crossed southern Mexico on Thursday headed toward the Gulf of Mexico, with warnings lifted as wind speeds dropped, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Barbara reached hurricane strength on Wednesday, hitting the southern Pacific coast near Mexico's biggest oil refinery and flooding roads, toppling trees and killing three men. It then weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland.
The depression was near Mexico's Gulf coast, but was described as “very ill-defined” and the threat of heavy rains and flooding continued.
The Red Cross said the Salina Cruz refinery was operating normally. State oil monopoly Pemex said the same on Wednesday but was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
The depression was located around 40 miles (64 km) northwest of the port city of Coatzacoalcos in southern Mexico, with maximum sustained winds dropping to around 30 mph (48 kph), the center said.
It was moving northwest at three mph (five kph) and was expected to turn toward the west and northwest and move near or along the Gulf coast, the center added.
“The center of Barbara is expected to emerge over the extreme southwestern Gulf of Mexico later today. Barbara is expected to weaken to a remnant low later today,” it said.
Fourteen fishermen were missing in the state of Oaxaca during the storm, local media reported in Mexico. Local emergency services said they could not confirm that information.