Hurricane Norbert strengthens, threatens Baja

Wednesday, October 8th 2008, 1:06 pm
By: News 9


Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Hurricane Norbert strengthened Wednesday to a powerful Category 3 storm in the Pacific Ocean and was forecast to hit Mexico's Baja California peninsula by the weekend.

The hurricane was expected to turn toward the northeast over the next two days on a path that could take it over the southern Baja peninsula and the Mexican mainland, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Norbert's maximum sustained winds were near 125 mph (205 kph), and it was expected to remain a hurricane for the next two days.

The storm was centered about 460 miles (740 kilometers) south of the southern tip Baja California, and was moving west-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph).

Norbert is the seventh hurricane of the east Pacific season.

In Mexico's Gulf coast, Tropical Storm Marco weakened late Tuesday into a tropical depression after slamming into land with near hurricane-force winds.

Mexico's state oil company had shutdown of some oil platforms in the gulf and evacuated some 3,000 people before Marco hit the coast about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Veracruz.

Marco was expected to dissipate overnight as it moved over Mexico's mountainous terrain, but forecasters said rains of up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) could still unleash mudslides.

Marco appeared to have largely spared water-logged southern areas of Veracruz state, where rain-swollen rivers jumped their banks, leaving the towns of Minatitlan and Hidalgotitlan under 10 feet (3 meters) of water last week.

State authorities closed schools and set up some 200 shelters, while soldiers and rescue officials bused people from low-lying communities.

In northern Veracruz state, authorities evacuated a hospital in the town of Misantla, where two overflowing rivers threatened to flood it.

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