MEXICO CITY, July 5 (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Erick kicked out increasingly strong gusts as it approached Mexico's west coast port of Lazaro Cardenas on Friday and a large swath of the country braced for a deluge of rain.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Erick could dump from 3 to 8 inches (8 to 20 cm) of rain along the Mexican coast and cause "life-threatening" flooding and mud slides.
It said the storm was located about 135 miles (215 km) south of Lazaro Cardenas at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT), packing maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 km per hour).
The Mexican government extended tropical storm warnings to cover the area from the Pacific tourist resort of Zihuatanejo in Guerrero state to Cabo Corrientes in Jalisco state. The area encompasses both Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo, the country's top cargo-shipping hub.
Erick is forecast to continue strengthening over the next 48 hours and could be near hurricane strength on Saturday.
Emergency services personnel in Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo said local weather conditions were unaffected by the storm.
The NHC said Erick was expected to skirt the coast over the next couple of days as it moves west-northwest at 12 miles per hour (19 km per hour), but the storm's center is not expected to make landfall.
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