Hurricane Raymond strengthens off Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane Raymond picked up strength early on Monday as it churned toward Mexico’s Pacific coast, which is still recovering from a devastating tropical storm last month.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 21 Oct 2013, 2:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:33 PM

In just 3.5 hours Raymond went from a tropical storm to a Category Two hurricane on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, Mexico’s National Weather Service said.
The storm was south of the coast of Guerrero and Michoacan states at 0330 GMT, and forecast to “continue approaching the coasts and increase in intensity,” the Weather Service warned.

Authorities in both Guerrero and Michoacan issued states of alert that included closing ports, evacuating people from flood prone areas, monitoring dams and rivers, and closing schools in some communities.

Raymond was about 245 kilometers southwest of the tourist resort of Acapulco moving towards the mainland at nine kilometers per hour, packing sustained winds of 160 kph with gusts of up to 195 kph. The storm was “causing heavy rain, large waves and strong wind in western and southern Mexico,” the Weather Service said.

The head of the National Commission on Water, David Korenfeld, predicted “torrential rain” over the next 72 hours, and warned of soil saturated with water across the region.

In mid-September, Hurricane Manuel struck Guerrero, while another weather system, Ingrid, slammed almost simultaneously into the opposite coast.

The two storms claimed 157 lives and left 1.7 million people homeless.

Hardest hit was Guerrero, where landslides triggered by Manuel partially buried a mountain community and 101 of the deaths were recorded.

The unusual double storm blast occurred during a holiday weekend, leaving thousands of tourists stranded in Acapulco when airports and highways were closed.

In Guerrero state alone, 5,000 people are still living in shelters due to the storm.

Rain from Raymond is expected to reach Mexico City.

Korenfeld said Mexico was on its way this year to breaking a record by being hit by eight named tropical storms or hurricanes — four on each coast.

“And we are close to breaking the all-time record of nine named storm strikes in one year,” which was in 2010, he added.

There was however a chance that a cold front coming down from the north could hit Raymond and push it back out to the ocean, Korenfeld said.

Local officials however are taking no chances: in Michoacan 34 shelters were prepared and school classes were cancelled in four municipalities, the secretary of the state government Jaime Mares Camarena told AFP.

In Guerrero officials kept a close eye on area dams, already bursting at full capacity, and closed area ports to small vessels, since the storm is expected to churn up waves of up to four meters high.

In Acapulco, already enduring heavy rain from the outer bands of the storm, locals were boarding up their windows, while classes were suspended for 35,000 students, local Civil Protection officials said.

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