Hurricane Raymond has been upgraded to a Category 3 storm in the Pacific Ocean, as it moves slowly northward toward Mexico's southwest coast. Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center say it could gain more strength before it begins to weaken Tuesday.
Monday morning, the Hurricane Center said that Raymond had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, with stronger gusts recorded. The storm is moving northward at a 2 mph pace from its current location about 165 miles west-southwest of Acapulco. It was some 100 miles from the coast.
Update at 4:45 p.m. ET: Up To 12 Inches Of Rain
The storm has grown a bit in strength, but it has also stopped moving, weather analysts say.
In an updated forecast issued Monday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center says that Raymond will bring from 4-8 inches of rainfall, with up to 12 inches of rain possible in some parts of the Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacan. The storm has grown in strength, with sustained winds measured at 125 mph.
The service said hurricane conditions could arrive in some areas of Mexico's coast by Monday night or early Tuesday, if the storm's center moves closer than current forecasts predict.
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The storm is threatening an area that is still recovering from Tropical Storm Manuel, which brought floods and mudslides that were blamed for dozens of deaths one month ago.
The AP describes current efforts to help residents:
"Mexican authorities rushed to deploy emergency crews and said they were considering ordering evacuations of low-lying areas. About 10,000 people already were living away from their homes one month after Manuel inundated homes and left behind drenched hillsides that posed serious landslide risks."
As the first major hurricane to form in the eastern Pacific this season, Raymond is extending hurricane-force winds some 15 miles from its center. And the Hurricane Center says it gained intensity very quickly.
"It is interesting to note that this cyclone has exhibited an impressive period of strengthening," the center said Monday, "as it was only a minimal tropical storm at this time yesterday."
U.S. forecasters have issued a hurricane warning for Mexico's coastal areas from Tecpan de Galeana to Lazaro Cardenas, and a hurricane watch from Acapulco to Tecpan de Galeana.