By Chris Aspin
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Arthur, the first of the year in the Atlantic, weakened to a depression over Mexico on Sunday but still dumped torrential rain across the south of the country that threatened to create floods.
Arthur, which had been forecast to move early Sunday into the Gulf of Mexico where there are many oil installations, was still overland and was seen moving farther inland in coming hours and then losing punch.
Still, Arthur's wicked winds forced the closure of two of Mexico's three main oil exporting ports in the Gulf of Mexico because of rough seas.
With sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph), Arthur brought heavy rain to parts of the Yucatan peninsula as well as neighboring Belize and Guatemala, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.
Up to 10 inches of rain were expected and Arthur also could produce isolated downpours of up to 15 inches (38 cm) over the Yucatan, which has some sugar production.
"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in mountainous terrain," the hurricane center said.
Mexico's National Weather Service also warned of heavy rains in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz and Tabasco. Some 800,000 people were left homeless last year in Tabasco after some of the worst flooding in its history in 2007 leaving 800,000 without homes.
Arthur, which formed a day before the official June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season, was centered 80 miles south of the colonial port of Campeche and moving west-southwest at 6 mph (10 kph).
"Weakening is forecast during the next 24 hours and Arthur could degenerate into a remnant low later tonight," the center said.
Another tropical storm, Alma, which formed in the Pacific, broke up on Friday over Central America's mountains after slamming into Nicaragua's Pacific coast, killing three people.
(Editing by Bill Trott)