Tropical Storm Karl takes aim at Mexico Gulf coast

Tropical Storm Karl re-entered the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened again after dumping heavy rains on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Cancun: Tropical Storm Karl
re-entered the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened again today
after dumping heavy rains on the Yucatan Peninsula,
threatening to build into a Category 2 hurricane and hit near
a port and an oil hub on the Mexican Gulf coast.

Karl could make landfall by late tomorrow with winds
of as much as 100 mph (160 kph) near the oil hub of Poza Rica,
according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami,

The storm had weakened as it moved over the Yucatan,
downing tree limbs and causing power outages, but once over
the Gulf water its winds built back up to about 65 mph (100
kph), and it was expected to quickly reach hurricane strength.

By early Thursday, Karl was about 110 miles (180 kms)
off the Yucatan peninsula, about 350 miles (560 kms) east of
Tuxpan. But it was heading west at a rapid clip of about 9 mph
(15 kph).

Poza Rica, while slightly inland, houses important
pipelines, and gas and oil-processing plants operated by the
state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. The
company said it had no immediate plans to halt production at
the plants because of the oncoming storm.

Tuxpan is an old port city of about 135,000 located on
a river near the coast.

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Igor spun into a dangerous
Category 4 storm that could generate dangerous rip currents
along the US East Coast over the weekend and bring large
swells to the Bahamas and Virgin Islands before that. Category
2 Hurricane Julia was not a threat to land.

In Mexico, the government issued a hurricane watch for
its eastern Gulf Coast from La Cruz in the northern state of
Tamaulipas south to a point just north of the city of

Yesterday, Karl made landfall on the Mexican Caribbean
coast about midway between the cruise ship port of Majahual
and the coastal town of Xcalak.

Violeta Pineda, who has operated thatched-roof
bungalows known as the Hotel Kabah Na for 13 years, said waves
were rolling about 25 yards (metres) onto the beach and eating
away at a stretch of road that runs along the coast.

"There is a lot of wind," said Pineda, whose hotel is
about 5 miles (8 kilometres) south of Majahual.

Electricity went out briefly around Majahual. But the
town took an almost-direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Dean
in 2007 - the third most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to
hit land - and "this is nothing in comparison," said Pineda.