MEXICO CITY – Newly formed Hurricane Raymond strengthened rapidly Sunday night as it swirled toward Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, an area already devastated by rains and mudslides from Tropical Storm Manuel last month.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Raymond would take a sharp westward turn and head out to sea before reaching land, but warned that the Category 2 storm still might get as close as 50 miles, bringing the threat of heavy and possibly dangerous rains. The center said the storm was expected to strengthen more over the next day.
In a region where 10,000 people were still living away from their homes one month after Manuel caused widespread flooding and left landslide risks, officials hurried to get emergency teams in place and weighed possible further evacuations.
Raymond’s center was about 125 miles south-southwest of the beach resort of Zihuatanejo and had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph late Sunday. The storm was moving north at about 6 mph, the U.S. hurricane center said. It said some additional strengthening was expected overnight and the storm’s forward motion was forecast to slow.
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.
Authorities in southern Guerrero state, where storm deluges caused about 120 deaths from flooding and landslides in September, were more worried about Raymond’s potential to bring heavy rains than its winds.
Forecasters said Raymond was expected to slowly approach the coast late today or early Tuesday but then begin to meander.