Hurricane Center: Raymond weakens to a tropical storm, is moving away from Mexico's coast

Associated Press

ACAPULCO, Mexico - Raymond weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm Wednesday and began moving away from Mexico's Pacific coast, granting relief to a region devastated by storms last month.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Raymond's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 65 mph (100 kph) with additional weakening possible over the next few days. At its peak, the storm was a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph (205 kph) that threatened to collide with the Mexican coast.

The storm was centred about 155 miles (250 kilometres) south-southwest of the beach resort of Zihuatanejo Wednesday morning and was moving west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

Officials in coastal mountain regions said they were evacuating hundreds of people from vulnerable villages on Tuesday because of fears of landslides, said Guerrero state's deputy secretary of civil protection, Constantino Gonzalez.

While Raymond failed to produce the sort of torrential rains inflicted by Tropical Storm Manuel last month, authorities were taking no chances following widespread criticism of their preparations for the earlier storm, which caused more than $1.7 billion in damage and about 120 deaths. Some 10,000 people are still homeless.

Still the storm flooded streets in low-lying parts of Acapulco and other areas, and some homes wrecked by Manuel were once again flooded.

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lorenzo strengthened far out to sea but posed no threat to land. Lorenzo's maximum sustained winds early Wednesday were over 50 mph (80 kph) with gradual weakening forecast over the next two days. The storm was centred about 940 miles (1,515 kilometres) east of Bermuda and was moving east near 8 mph (13 kph).

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