Weakened Hurricane Paula approaches western Cuba

14:50, October 14, 2010      

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Cuba went on alert on Wednesday as a weakened Hurricane Paula was nearing its western tip after brushing eastern Mexican shores.

"Paula will be very close to western Cuba on Wednesday night or early Thursday," the island state's National Meteorology Institute (INSMET) said around noon.

The institute said that at noon Wednesday local time, the ninth hurricane of this year's Atlantic hurricane season was centered some 100 miles southwest of San Antonio Cape, Cuba's westernmost tip.

It was moving northeastward at about 13 km per hour, and coastal flooding would hit western Cuba on Wednesday evening, the INSMET warned.

As Paula roared toward the Cuban coast, it weakened to a Category 1 storm later Wednesday, with its maximum sustained winds having waned from 160 kph to 140 kph, according to Mexico's National Meteorology Service (SMN), which predicted that it would dissipate by Sunday.

Mexican authorities then canceled the hurricane alert on its eastern coastal regions, yet a heavy rain alert remained in place for the states of Yucatan and Quinatana Roo.

The partial relief came after the fury of Hurricane Paula prompted the Mexican Interior Ministry to place four municipalities along its Caribbean coast on red alert, the highest on its five-level scale. Local authorities had already carried out precautionary evacuations earlier this week.

In previous statements, the ministry warned that citizens should expect dangerous storms to continue until the end of November. It has so far declared 34 "states of disaster" for 522 municipalities across the country.

Source: Xinhua


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