Hurricane Paul weakens to Caty 2 storm in Pacific

Associated Press
This NOAA satellite image taken Monday, October 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM EDT shows Hurricane Paul south of the Baja Peninsula. Paul is moving towards the north-northeast and has maximum winds of 90 mph. This hurricane is expected to approach the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula in the next 48 hours. In the Pacific Northwest a frontal system is moving in off the Pacific with cloudiness and rain showers. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)
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LOS CABOS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Paul has weakened to a Category 2 storm in the eastern Pacific but is still swirling near Mexico's western coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Monday that Paul's maximum sustained winds had decreased to 110 mph (175 kph) and that the storm was centered about 310 miles (500 kilometers) southwest of the Baja California peninsula's southern tip.

The Mexican government extended its hurricane warning for the west coast northward to Punta Abreojos. The hurricane center said the center of Paul should move inland along the coast by Tuesday night and be near or over the central Baja peninsula on Wednesday. The hurricane was expected to begin weakening Tuesday, the hurricane center said.

Paul is on track to bypass the heavily populated tourist areas of Los Cabos at the tip of the peninsula, and the capital, La Paz, on the eastern Gulf of California. But school was suspended Monday and Tuesday as a precaution in Los Cabos, and heavy rain and high waves closed the ports of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, said Wenceslao, Pettit, head of civil protection.

The storm is forecast to brush Baja's Pacific coast farther north near Puerto San Carlos, a sparsely populated area of fishing villages, before turning northward along the coastline. The outer cone was forecast to pass over the entire peninsula farther north in the towns of Meluge. Comondu and Loreto.

State civil protection authorities say they are monitoring the storm for possible evacuations and have sent advance teams from the federal electricity and water commissions to help maintain services during the storm.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the western coast from Santa Fe north to Puerto San Andresito, and a tropical storm warning on Baja's western flank from north of Puerto San Andresito to Punta Abrejojos and also from Agua Blanca to south of San Fe. A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of Punta Abreojos to El Pocito.

In the Atlantic, meanwhile, Rafael reached hurricane strength late Monday south of Bermuda.

The hurricane center said Rafael's top sustained winds had risen to near 85 mph (140 kph), making it the ninth hurricane of the Atlantic season.

Rafael is centered about 500 miles (805 kilometers) south of Bermuda. It is moving north at 12 mph (19 kph) and forecast to pass near or to the east of Bermuda by late Tuesday.

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