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Hurricane Raymond forms off Mexico, threatens to drench Acapulco again

Source: Reuters - Mon, 21 Oct 2013 00:20 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with Raymond becoming hurricane)

MEXICO CITY, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Hurricane Raymond formed on Sunday, barreling towards Mexico's Pacific coast and threatening to dump heavy rain on the beach resort of Acapulco, which is still recovering from destructive floods last month.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Raymond could get close to the coast of Mexico late on Monday or on Tuesday, and Mexico has issued a hurricane watch from Acapulco in Guerrero state to the port of Lazaro Cardenas further northwest.

Mexico has no major oil installations in the path of the hurricane, which is blowing winds of up to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) and is expected to meander after nearing the coast.

The NHC said Raymond was a small hurricane and was likely to strengthen somewhat during the night and on Monday.

Mexico suffered its worst flooding on record when tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid converged from the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico in mid-September, killing more than 150 people and causing estimated damage of around $6 billion.

The Mexican government said it was monitoring conditions closely from the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico to Jalisco in the west, and that local authorities were ready to evacuate people from vulnerable areas if necessary.

Up to 15 cm (6 inches) of rain could hit the coast, Mexico's national meteorological service (SMN) forecast.

Over the next few days, Raymond may cause life-threatening surf and rip currents, the NHC said.

Complicating matters for Mexico is a cold weather front currently in the Gulf of Mexico off the state of Veracruz that could interact with Raymond to intensify the flood risk. SMN said the cold front could produce up to 5 cm (2 inches) of rain in northeastern, eastern and central parts of the country.

Acapulco was one of the places worst hit by last month's chaos, as torrential rains put the city's airport under water and stranded thousands of tourists.

The flooding, landslides and displacement of thousands of people caused by the storms have also heightened the risk of diarrheal illness. Mexico is experiencing its first local transmission of cholera in just over a decade.

Over the past seven weeks, more than 170 cases of cholera have been confirmed in the country, including one death.

By early evening on Sunday, Raymond was churning about 155 miles (245 km) west-southwest of Acapulco and moving north at about 6 mph (9 kph), the NHC added. (Reporting by Dave Graham and Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Walsh)

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