VERACRUZ, Mexico — Tropical Storm Barry bore down on Mexico's Gulf Coast early Thursday as civil defense workers readied emergency shelters and forecasters warned of the possibility of deadly flash floods and mudslides.
The second tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season packed 45-mph (75-kph) winds that were already being felt as the storm edged toward an expected morning landfall northwest of the port city of Veracruz, authorities said.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was about 30 miles (45 kilometers) north of the Gulf Coast port at 5 a.m. EDT and heading west at 5 mph (7 kph).
The Miami forecasters said Barry would move inland with drenching rains in coming hours and eventually dissipate on Friday over southern Mexico while crossing land.
Between 3 and 10 inches of rain were possible and warned the rains could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially over mountainous areas, forecasters said. Tropical storm force winds were spreading outward up to 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the center of the system.
Early Thursday, blustery winds were already being reported around the Gulf Coast areas closest to the storm's center. Forecasters said tropical storm conditions were already lashing the coast early Thursday and the high winds would continue through Thursday morning.
A tropical storm warning was in effect from Punta El Lagarto to Tuxpan, in Veracruz state.
Veracruz state Civil Protection Secretary Noemi Guzman said 2,000 shelters had been readied in the state with mattresses, blankets, water and canned food. She said the shelters at schools and recreation centers could house up to 306,000 people.
The port of Veracruz was closed to small vessels because of the strong winds, Guzman added.
The storm had formed as a depression off the coast of Belize on Monday and began moving northward, dumping heavy rains on parts of that country and northern Guatemala before entering Mexico's Bay of Campeche earlier in the week.