Hurricane Paula strengthens to category two storm

09:45, October 13, 2010      

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Hurricane Paula has strengthened to a category two storm in the Caribbean Sea close to Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

The storm now has sustained winds of 160 km per hour and is heading toward Mexico's Caribbean coast, although it is expected to change direction and head towards the island of Cuba during the course of Tuesday.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the NHC said. The Caribbean coast state Quintana Roo has already issued a hurricane warning for its Caribbean coast and is evacuating tourists from the famous resort island Isla Mujeres.

"Some slight strengthening is possible tonight and Wednesday. But a gradual weakening should begin thereafter," the NHC said.

The statement also described the hurricane as small, with hurricane-force winds reaching a radius of only around 30 km and tropical storm winds reaching only 96 km. Paula is not expected to come onshore in Mexico, but will cause strong rains on the Yucatan peninsula, which contains the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche.

Rainfall is likely to reach 15 cm over the affected areas, and might be as much as 25 cm in some isolated areas. "These rainfall amounts could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC warned.

There is also a risk of a storm surge reaching two meters on the Quintana Roo coast, accompanied by large waves. Storm surges are sudden increases in water levels caused by the low pressure in the eye of a hurricane.

In earlier statements, the Interior Ministry said that citizens should expect dangerous storms to continue until the end of November. The ministry has so far declared 34 "states of disaster" in the country, across 522 municipalities.



Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张茜)

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