From the ABC 7 Weather team

Tropical Storm Arlene, first of the season, mashes Mexico (VIDEO)

June 30, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center have warned that Arlene could approach Category 1 hurricane strength before smacking into land.

Could Hurricane Arlene not be far behind Tropical Storm Arlene? The system on Wednesday evening, in infrared. (Servicio Meteorologico Nacional)

The first Atlantic tropical storm of the 2011 hurricane season, a blimpy ogress called Arlene, is menacing the northeast coast of Mexico. (The Pacific has already had its first, Beatriz.) Arlene's expected track takes it through Mexico City on Friday, although NOAA is saying that its size is so grand that "one should not focus on the exact forecast track as impacts will likely be felt over a large portion of northeastern Mexico well away from the center."

But wait a sec: Arlene? Yes, Ar-freakin’-lene. This year’s list of storm names is rife with entries that sound like they just stumbled out of a 1950s greasy spoon, breath reeking of instant coffee and apple pie draped with slices of processed cheese. According to this site, the name Arlene had its peak popularity 90 years ago.

Roll call! Don? Here. Franklin? Here. Tammy? Present. Gert? Where is Gert? Oh, there you are, over in the corner getting Hertz Doughnuts from all the other storms.

Nevertheless, let’s try to take Tormenta Tropical “Arlene” seriously. (And apologies to any actual Arlenes who are reading. It's a beautiful name.)

By evening Wednesday, the gyrating ocean-pounder had already prompted hurricane watches along the coast from Barra de Nautla north to La Cruz. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center have warned that the system could approach Category 1 hurricane strength before smacking into land. That would make it the first arrival in what many outlooks have described as an active 2011 hurricane season.

Rain is gushing out of Arlene and is expected to pile up into 4 to 8-inch accumulations in many Mexican states, and as much as 15 inches in the mountains, where deadly mudslides and flooding are possible. An associated storm surge will push “large and destructive waves” along the beaches. Arlene began as a disorganized cluster of varying pressures and wind vectors known as System 95L, but she’s all grown up now.

You can see the system get swole in the below NASA/NOAA time lapse, which was compiled using GOES-13 satellite images taken every 15 minutes from June 27 to June 28. You can also see what's shaking in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean in ABC7's Hurricane Alley video loop, at the bottom of the main weather page.

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