Tropical Storm Hits Mexico Coast

VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) - Tropical Storm Helene quickly weakened into a tropical depression Saturday after moving ashore on Mexico's Gulf Coast, then degenerated into a rain storm by night without bringing reports of significant damage.

Authorities had worried Helene's rains could pose a threat to areas where thousands of people are recovering from flooding spawned last week by Hurricane Ernesto, but the Veracruz state civil defense office said none of the region's numerous rivers had overflowed. Some streets flooded in low-lying neighborhoods of the port city of Veracruz.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the system still had winds of about 30 mph (45 kph) late Saturday. It was 85 miles (140 kilometers) west-northwest of the port of Tampico, and was expected to dissipate Sunday.

The storm came ashore early Saturday in a lush coastal region of oil centers and tourist resorts with hundreds of towns and villages lying beside streams and rivers that can swell dangerously in heavy rain. Many were evacuated as Ernesto approached last week, and flood damage left some 10,000 people homeless.

The U.S. hurricane center said an additional 2 inches (5 centimeters) to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain could fall across northern Veracruz, southern Tamaulipas and eastern San Luis Potosi state.

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Gordon strengthened into a hurricane Saturday as it moved eastward on a track that could take it near the eastern Azores islands Sunday night. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) late Saturday. It was 455 miles (730 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores and moving to the east at 22 mph (35 kph).

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