Hurricane Beatriz hits Mexico's Pacific coast

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2011 12:14 PM
Hurricane Beatriz hits Mexico's Pacific coast

By David Graham

MANZANILLO, Mexico (Reuters) - Hurricane Beatriz brushed Mexico's Pacific coast on Tuesday, putting tourist areas on alert for high waves and shutting major shipping ports, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The Category 1 hurricane was expected to weaken significantly as it moved closer to the coast, but Mexico's two largest Pacific ports, Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, remained closed as a precaution.

Mexico has no major oil installations in the storm's path and state oil monopoly Pemex said none of its operations were affected by Beatriz, but the coastline is dotted with beaches popular with U.S. tourists.

Local fisherman were among those hardest hit when Beatriz swept along the coast since they were unable to go out for their daily catch.

"You really feel it when this happens," said 59-year-old Antonio Hernandez, who has been fishing the area for three-and-half decades. "I hope we'll be back out tomorrow," he said as heavy rains eased on Tuesday morning in Manzanillo.

The eye of the hurricane was about 55 miles southeast of Cabo Corrientes, a vacationing spot near Puerto Vallarta, with sustained winds near 80 miles per hour, and was expected to move out to sea later in the day.

The Mexican government discontinued its hurricane warning for areas south of La Fortuna.

"The risks are decreasing now. Yesterday it became a hurricane but today, after it hit land, (it weakened)," Ildefonso Carrillo, a captain at the Manzanillo port said.

Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas each move around 150 cargo ships a month and were evaluating conditions to return to operations later in the day.

A hurricane warning remained in place for part of the coast, with storm surges expected to cause flash flooding and heavy rains, increasing the risk of landslides.

Hurricane Adrian, which formed earlier this month and caused no damage, was the first hurricane of the 2011 Pacific season.

Forecasters are expecting a rash of storms the Atlantic this year, with some predicting at least five major hurricanes of Category 3 or stronger.

(Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg, Adriana Barrera and Patrick Rucker in Mexico City)