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Tropical Storm Julio expected to weaken in Mexico

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Associated Press Writer

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) -- Tropical Storm Julio lashed the southern half of Mexico's Baja California peninsula with rain early Monday, but was expected to weaken to a tropical depression and move out over the Gulf of California later in the day.

The storm drenched the resort-studded southern Baja California with heavy rains Sunday as authorities evacuated more than 2,500 families living along riverbeds near the coast.

Tropical storm warnings for the southern tip of Baja California were discontinued but remained in effect farther north on the peninsula's west coast from Punta Abreojos to El Pocito and along the east coast from Mulege to San Juan Bautista. By early Monday, the storm was centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) west-northwest of Loreto, moving north-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).

The storm had top winds near 40 mph (65 kph), but was expected to weaken as it moved out over the Gulf of California.

The U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami said Julio could dump 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rain on the normally parched Mexican peninsula, raising fears of flash flooding.

Most vacationers rode out the bad weather inside their hotel rooms, but some ventured out on shopping trips and excursions.

At the hillside Hotel Finiterra, the 224 guests were warned to stay away from the ocean, but none made plans to leave early, said front desk manager Jorge Castro. "They can see it's not a huge problem. Some have even gone out on activities, on tours, or sand biking."

More than a dozen shelters were filled with people riding out the wind and rain. Those who fled their homes included Miriam Pineda, 20, who is nine months pregnant and wanted to take advantage of the shelter's access to a doctor.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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