Veracruz: A rare trio of hurricanes swirled in the Atlantic basin, including Karl which menaced Mexico`s Gulf coast, and Igor, a monster storm threatening a direct hit on Bermuda.
Karl, the 11th named storm of a season, has already drenched Mexico`s Yucatan Peninsula and lashed the country`s main offshore oil platforms, and is forecast to make landfall Friday on the flood-hit mainland coast.
Karl`s sustained winds surged to 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour, and it could approach major hurricane strength before the center reaches the Mexican coast, the US National Hurricane Center reported in its latest bulletin.
The category one hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale was 225 kilometers (140 miles) northeast of Veracruz, Mexico at 0000 GMT.
Mexico, already reeling from major flooding this month that left 25 people dead and affected nearly one million more, posted hurricane warnings for the country`s central Gulf coast.
Up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain in isolated regions could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, the NHC said, warning of a possible storm surge and destructive waves.
Earlier the NHC warned Karl could bring coastal flooding to parts of Belize and northern Guatemala.
The storm did not appear to have washed out any of Mexico`s celebrations for the bicentennial of its independence from Spain, on Wednesday and Thursday, but some festivities were already reduced in flooded southeastern areas.
Meanwhile out in the Atlantic, "extremely dangerous" category three Hurricane Igor packed winds of 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour, generating large swells that could cause dangerous surf from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands up the US East Coast, the NHC said.
But concern lay primarily with Bermuda, where authorities of the British overseas territory were warning of potential devastation if the eye of the storm passes close by as forecast.
"The island can expect tropical storm force winds sometime around midnight Saturday and even worse conditions late Sunday around midnight when the current forecast is for a direct hit," a spokeswoman for the Emergency Measures Organization told Bermuda`s Royal Gazette newspaper.
"Residents are advised to take the warnings seriously as the island has not experienced such an intense storm since Hurricane Fabian hit Bermuda in 2003."
Home Affairs Minister David Burch said authorities would "take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our people," and urged residents to make immediate preparations.
Lined up behind Igor was Julia, a weakening category one hurricane out in the Atlantic with no current threats to land.
Three simultaneous hurricanes are "rare, but not unheard of," NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen told AFP.
The last time so many major storms churned in the Atlantic basin was in September 1998, when four hurricanes roared simultaneously, including Georges, which killed more than 600 people and caused nearly six billion dollars in damage.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted an especially stormy 2010, with 14 to 23 named storms for this season, including eight to 14 hurricanes.
On average, there are 11 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, in a six-month season.