VERACRUZ, Mexico -
UPDATE: The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Barry made landfall Thursday mornning in the state of Veracruz, Mexico.
PREVIOUS REPORT: Tropical Storm Barry bore down on Mexico's Gulf Coast early Thursday as civil defense workers readied emergency shelters and forecasters warned of potentially deadly flash flooding from the system's drenching rains.
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). It said Barry would move inland in coming hours before dissipate Friday over southern Mexico.
Miami-based forecasters said between 3 and 10 inches of rain were possible and warned the rains could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially over mountain areas.
Early Thursday, blustery winds were already being reported around the Gulf Coast areas closest to the storm's center. 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.