Storm weakens off Mexico coast

2013-10-23 10:57
An image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Raymond. (File, AP)

An image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Raymond. (File, AP)

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Acapulco - Hurricane Raymond weakened to barely a Category 1 storm on Tuesday while still stalled off Mexico's Pacific coast, pumping rain onto an already sodden region recovering from a battering by a tropical storm last month.

Raymond was centered 160km from the beach resort of Zihuatanejo on Tuesday evening, and its winds had dropped to 150kph, down from Category 3 on Monday, the US National Hurricane Centre said. It was expected to weaken to a tropical storm by Wednesday and head out to sea.

But stung by the tardy reaction to the damage and deaths from Tropical Storm Manuel in September, authorities in Guerrero state took no chances, moving hundreds of people from isolated mountain communities and low-lying shore areas. More than 1 500 soldiers were sent into the area.

Even if Raymond didn't move inland, it could still cause floods and mudslides to an area reeling from more than $1.7bn in damage and about 120 deaths from Manuel.

"Slow and erratic motion is expected during the next 12 hours and Raymond could still move closer to the coast of Mexico," the hurricane centre said.

Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre urged people to stay off roads because of potentially dangerous rains.

"The phenomenon's behaviour is completely erratic, completely unpredictable," Aguirre said on Monday night.

There were no reports of torrential downpours, but rain fell and some streets flooded in soaked Acapulco, where city workers reinforced roads with sand bags. About 400 people were evacuated from hamlets around nearby Coyuca.

In the mountain town of El Paraiso, authorities evacuated about 500 residents by Tuesday evening and planned to completely empty the village of 7 000 people because of possible landslides, said Guerrero state's deputy secretary of civil protection, Constantino Gonzalez.

Schools in most coastal communities west of Acapulco, including Zihuatanejo, were kept closed.

Forecasters said Raymond was expected to follow an erratic path through the night and could bring as much as 30cm of rain to some parts of the coast.

About 10 000 people in Guerrero already were living away from their homes a month after Manuel inundated whole neighbourhoods and caused landslides that buried much of one village. It left behind drenched hillsides that pose serious landslide risks.

A hurricane warning was in effect from Tecpan de Galeana, up the coast from Acapulco, north to the port of Lazaro Cardenas. A tropical storm warning was posted from Acapulco to Tecpan.

Meanwhile in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lorenzo strengthened far out to sea. Lorenzo's maximum sustained winds were over 80kph with little change in strength forecast. The storm was centered about 1 335km east of Bermuda and was moving east near 13 kph.

Read more on:    mexico

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