The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said Paul's maximum sustained winds had ratcheted up to 195 kph as of 5 pm EDT yesterday. Paul was centered about 670 kilometers southwest of the tip of the Baja peninsula and moving north-northeast at 20 kph.
Forecasters said Paul was expected to approach the western coast of the southern Baja peninsula by late today and be near or over the central Baja peninsula tomorrow. The hurricane was expected to begin weakening today, the hurricane center said.
Mexico's government, meanwhile, changed a tropical storm warning for the peninsula from Santa Fe north to Puerto San Andresito to a hurricane warning, according to the center.
It said Mexico also changed the tropical storm watch from north of Puerto San Andresito to Punta Abrejojos to a tropical storm warning. A tropical storm warning has been issued for other coastal areas in the storm's projected path.
In the Atlantic, meanwhile, Tropical Storm Rafael could reach hurricane strength sometime today, the hurricane center said.
Rafael's maximum sustained winds are near 110 kph. It's centered about 915 kilometers south of Bermuda, where a tropical storm warning has been issued. Rafael was moving north at 17 kph.
The hurricane center said Rafael was expected to turn toward the northeast in coming hours on a forecast track that would take its center near or to the east of Bermuda late today.
Miami(US): Hurricane Paul has rapidly strengthened into a major Category 3 storm in the Pacific off Mexico, prompting a hurricane warning for a swath of Baja California's western coastline, forecasters said.
First Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 10:02