- Associated Press - Monday, September 6, 2010

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico (AP) — Mexican authorities opened shelters and warned people to watch out for mudslides Monday as Tropical Storm Hermine approached the northeastern border with Texas, the second major storm to hit the area this season.

Hermine could approach hurricane strength before making landfall early Tuesday in a sparsely populated area about 50 miles south of Matamoros, a city bordering Brownsville, Texas, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

A hurricane watch was issued for the area from Rio San Fernando, Mexico, northward to Baffin Bay in Texas.

Hermine is expected to hit in the same area where Hurricane Alex roared ashore in June. That storm killed at least 12 people as remnant rains drenched a wide swath of northeastern Mexico for days.

The cattle-ranching region is one the most dangerous in Mexico’s turf war between two drug cartels. It is the same area where 72 migrants were killed two weeks ago in what it believed to be Mexico’s worst drug gang massacre to date.

Mexican emergency officials urged people living in low-lying coastal areas to move to shelters, but there were no immediate evacuation plans.

“We urge the general population to be on alert for possible floods and mudslides,” said Salvador Trevino, director of civil defense of Tamaulipas state, where Matamoros is located.

Hermine, with maximum sustained winds of near 50 mph, was located about 205 miles southeast of Brownsville on Monday morning and was moving north-northwest near 13 mph.

Heavy rain is predicted, with northeastern Mexico into south Texas getting 4 to 8 inches and as much as a foot in some places.