Hurricane Blanca grows off Mexico coast, headed for tourist hub

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Blanca strengthened to a category 4 storm off Mexico's Pacific coast on Wednesday and was expected to bear down on tourist resorts at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Blanca, the second hurricane to form off Mexico's Pacific coast this year, was about 465 miles (748 km) south of the major port of Manzanillo, with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kmh), the Miami-based NHC said.

The storm was stationary but is forecast to strengthen slightly over the next 24 hours, then start moving toward the north-northwest on Thursday, the NHC said.

Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico's civil protection agency, said authorities in the Pacific states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora, Baja California Sur and Baja California were taking preventative measures in anticipation of any impact from the hurricane.

Last September, Hurricane Odile battered southern Baja California, wreaking havoc on up-market resorts such as Los Cabos and stranding thousands of tourists.

(Reporting by Christine Murray and Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Dave Graham, Bernard Orr)