Tropical storm Harold barrels toward U.S. south Texas with threat of heavy rain

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NEW YORK, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- A tropical storm that formed in the Gulf of Mexico overnight barreled toward south Texas on Tuesday morning, threatening to bring heavy rain and possible flooding to an area that has grappled with unrelenting heat all summer.

Harold, the latest system to form in a busy Atlantic hurricane season, was about 70 miles east-southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, around 7:30 a.m. CT (1330 GMT). It was moving northwest towards the Texas coast at around 18 mph, according to NBC News.

The storm, which had sustained winds of 45 mph, is forecast to make landfall between Brownsville and Port Mansfield as a tropical storm at around 11 a.m. CT (1600 GMT). It is expected to slam south Texas with heavy rain and gusty winds, the National Weather Service said.

Harold can dump 3 to 5 inches of rain across south Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday, with locally higher amounts closer to 7 inches. Across Mexico, 4 to 6 inches of rain are expected.

Tropical-storm-force winds will occur in and around where Harold makes landfall midday Tuesday with sustained winds of 40-50 mph and gusts up to 65 mph likely. According to CNN, wind speeds may ease slightly as the storm moves inland Tuesday afternoon, but locally-damaging gusts of 30-40 mph may still be possible.

"The good news is that the bulk of this rainfall will be beneficial for the drought-stricken region," weather service forecaster William Churchill was quoted by USA Today as saying. "But too much rainfall too fast could lead to isolated, scattered instances of flash flooding." Enditem

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