Tropical storm expected to pick up steam

Tropical Storm Karl dumped heavy rains on the Yucatan Peninsula today as it moved toward the Gulf of Mexico, where it is expected to pick up steam and become a hurricane threatening Mexico’s central coast by the weekend.

Tropical Storm Karl dumped heavy rains on the Yucatan Peninsula today as it moved toward the Gulf of Mexico, where it is expected to pick up steam and become a hurricane threatening Mexico’s central coast by the weekend.

In the Atlantic, forecasters say Hurricane Igor has spun into a major Category 4 storm and is threatening to generate life-threatening rip currents along the US east coast over the weekend and to bring large swells to the Bahamas and Virgin Islands before that. Category 3 Hurricane Julia is not a threat to land.

In Mexico, the government issued a hurricane watch for its eastern Gulf Coast from La Cruz in Tamaulipas state south to Nautla in Veracruz. It is expected to reach the coast on Saturday.

Karl made landfall on Yucatan about 30 miles up the coast from the Quintana Roo state capital of Chetumal, with winds of about 65mph, according to the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami. It hit about midway between the cruise ship port of Majahual and the coastal town of Xcalak.

Violeta Pineda, who has operated the Hotel Kabah Na for 13 years, said waves were rolling about 25 yards on to the beach and eating away at a stretch of road that runs along the coast.

“There is a lot of wind,” said Ms Pineda, whose hotel is about five miles south of Majahual.

Electricity went out briefly around Majahual. But the town took an almost-direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Dean in 2007 – the third most powerful Atlantic hurricane to hit land – and “this is nothing in comparison”, said Ms Pineda.

Karl’s centre passed close to the state capital, where there were reports of heavy rain and wind, downed trees and power outages.

The storm then moved inland over tiny rural hamlets and its winds declined to about 40mph.

It is expected to move back over water and into the Gulf of Mexico today.

Assistant state public safety secretary Didier Vazquez said security forces had taken some people from coastal towns to shelters, while others preferred to ride out the storm in their homes.

The storm threw doubt over the area’s celebration of Mexico’s bicentennial anniversary of independence from Spain, although there was no immediate decision to cancel festivities.

But Mexico issued a tropical storm watch for the west coast of the Yucatan peninsula – where the storm is expected to re-enter the Gulf – from Ciudad del Carmen north to Celestun.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Julia briefly intensified into a powerful Category 4 storm early on Wednesday before weakening to a Category 3 with sustained winds of near 115mph. Igor’s top winds also lost steam to 135mph.

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