Mexico City – Tropical Storm Nate was practically stalled early Friday off the coast of the southeastern Mexican state of Campeche, in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and could intensify in the coming hours, meteorologists said.
In a bulletin issued at 7:00 a.m., Mexico's National Meteorological Service said Nate was moving slowly to the west over the Gulf of Mexico and was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour with gusts up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour.
The storm was moving at a speed of four kilometers (2.5 miles) per hour toward the northwest and its eye was located 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Campeche city, the state capital, and 290 kilometers northeast of the port of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center, meanwhile, said in its 7:00 a.m. bulletin that Tropical Storm Nate is expected to strengthen and become a hurricane either later Friday or on Saturday.
Meanwhile, 10 oil workers employed by Houston-based Geokenetics Inc., which provides services to Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, went missing Thursday afternoon while they were being evacuated from a Gulf of Mexico platform ahead of the storm.
Meteorologists are forecasting heavy rains in the coming hours in the Mexican states of Yucatan and Tabasco and in parts of the states of Veracruz, Chiapas, Campeche and Oaxaca.
Mexican emergency management officials have issued a high-risk "orange alert" for Campeche - in the Yucatan peninsula - and a moderate-risk "yellow alert" for part of the neighboring states of Tabasco and Yucatan.
Mexican authorities expect this year's hurricane season to produce a combined total of 17 Pacific and Atlantic tropical cyclones, 14 of which could affect Mexico in the form of tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes.