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October 22, 2013

Strong hurricane meanders off Mexico's south coast

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Raymond gained strength as it remained nearly stationary off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast yesterday, though it threatened to hurl heavy rains onto a sodden region already devastated by last month’s Tropical Storm Manuel.

Guerrero state authorities said it was raining in places, but so far no torrential rains had hit the area. More than 100 people were evacuated as a precaution from a mountain town east of Acapulco, authorities said.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the Category 3 hurricane had maximum sustained winds of about 125 mph and was edging eastward at 2 mph. Raymond was centered about 100 miles south of the beach resort of Zihuatanejo last night and it was expected to follow an erratic path and possibly get closer to the coast over the next day, before veering back out to sea tomorrow.

In the beach resort of Zihuatanejo, officials went door-to-door in hillside communities warning residents about the risk of flash floods and mudslides, but nobody had voluntarily evacuated to the three shelters set up in schools and athletic facilities, municipal firefighter Jesus Guatemala said.

Amid light, intermittent rains, tourists continued to stroll through town.

Mexican authorities rushed to deploy emergency crews and said they were considering evacuations of low-lying areas. About 10,000 people already are living away from their homes a month after Manuel inundated whole neighborhoods and caused landslides that buried much of one village. It left behind drenched hillsides that pose serious landslide risks.

David Korenfeld, head of Mexico’s National Water Commission, said Sunday that officials were pinning their hopes on a cold front moving from the north that could help steer Raymond away from the coast.

“The cold front coming down is what makes it (Raymond) turn to the left, but that is a model,” Korenfeld said. “If that cold front comes down more slowly, this tropical storm ... can get closer to the coast.”

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