Mexican Coast Faces John's Fury - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Mexican Coast Faces John's Fury

Increasingly dangerous Hurricane John menaced Mexican tourist resorts on Wednesday, with forecasters predicting a march up the Pacific coast that would rake the mainland with powerful winds and rains.

While the storm's eye was not projected to hit land, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said hurricane-force winds were likely to rip across the beaches in some areas.

A Category 3 hurricane, John had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph early Wednesday, with stronger gusts. The hurricane center in Miami forecast that it could grow into a Category 4 storm with winds of more than 130 mph on Wednesday.

John was running parallel to the coast and was not expected to affect the United States. The forecast path would carry the storm out to sea below Los Cabos at the tip of the Baja California peninsula, but forecasters warned that track could vary.

Early Wednesday, the hurricane was centered about 135 miles west-southwest of Acapulco and was moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph.

The hurricane center said hurricane force winds extended outward as far as 45 miles, with tropical storm-force winds reaching out 125 miles.

Hurricane watches and warnings covered more than 400 miles of coast from Tecpan de Galeana -- up the coast from Acapulco -- to Cabo Corrientes, the southwestern tip on the bay that holds Puerto Vallarta. The resort of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo was in the watch area.

A hurricane warning was called for the center of that area, from the industrial center of Lazaro Cardenas toward the port of Manzanillo.

"While the center of John is forecast to remain just offshore any deviation to the right of track will bring hurricane force winds to the coast in the warning area," the center said.

Saul Martinez, night manager at Acapulco's Los Flamingos Hotel, said there weren't many guests around because it was the low season, but that the storm wasn't scaring away those who had come to the beach.

"The people are going out, like any other day," he said.

Skies over the resort were cloudy, but it had yet to begin raining late Tuesday night.

Authorities warned residents of low-lying areas to be on alert and urged deep-sea fishing expeditions to return to port in Acapulco. But the airport was still open, and there were few signs of preparation for the hurricane.

Forecasters warned the hurricane could dump up to 12 inches of rain along some of Mexico's southern coast.

The storm brought winds and rain to a swath of coastline from Puerto Escondido, a beach community popular with surfers in the southern state of Oaxaca, to Acapulco.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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