Tropical Storm Boris Lashes Mexico With Intense Rainfall and Threatens to Trigger Deadly Landslides

By Tom Yulsman | June 3, 2014 3:00 pm
Tropical Storm Boris

In this animation of Tropical Storm Boris off the Pacific coast of Mexico, the false color scheme highlights areas of intense precipitation. Bright green is indicative of the most intense rainfall, followed by red tones. (Source: NOAA)

A little earlier today, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Depression 2-E off Mexico’s Pacific coast to a tropical storm.

It’s named Tropical Storm Boris, and as of 11 a.m. PDT the system had already brought nearly 4 inches of rain to Puerto Chiapas, Mexico.

As I write this, Boris has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. The storm is moving slowly northward and is not expected to strengthen significantly before landfall, which should happen by early Wednesday.

The most significant threat from Boris is rain — and we’re talking huge amounts of it. From the National Hurricane Center:

RAINFALL...BORIS IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE AS MUCH AS 10 TO 20 INCHES OF RAIN OVER A LARGE PART OF SOUTHERN MEXICO THROUGH SATURDAY...WITH ISOLATED AMOUNTS EXCEEDING 30 INCHES LIKELY OVER THE MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN OF THE MEXICAN STATES OF OAXACA AND CHIAPAS. BORIS IS ALSO EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 5 TO 10 INCHES IN GUATEMALA. THESE RAINS ARE LIKELY TO RESULT IN LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES.

Five deaths — all in a single family — have already been attributed to heavy rains that triggered a landslide late last week in Guatemala.

Tropical Storm Boris

Tropical Depression 2-E, which has since developed into Tropical Storm Boris, is seen in this image acquired by NASA’s Terra satellite on Tuesday, May 2, 2014 (Source: NASA)

It doesn’t take a hurricane to cause utter devastation in this region. As Weather.com meteorologist Nick Wiltgen points out:

A slow-moving tropical depression or storm near the Pacific coast of southeast Mexico is not good news for Guatemala. Tropical Storm Agatha formed in this area at the end of May 2010, and it caused 160 deaths and almost $1 billion in damage in Guatemala alone due to heavy rain and landslides.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Declaiming rain in the tropics is like being surprised by cyclones in Kansas or drought in the Atacama Plateau. Klimate Kaos is political not empirical, whatever its talents for presentation.

    • Buddy199

      Big Al!

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ImaGeo

ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.

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