Tropical Storm Karl takes aim at Mexico Gulf coast
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Last Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010, 23:26
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, Florida.

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 Veracruz.

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.


First Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010, 23:26

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