Sep 16, 2010 11:00 AM
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) - Tropical Storm Karl re-entered the Gulf of
Mexico and strengthened again Thursday after dumping heavy rains on
the Yucatan Peninsula, threatening to build into a Category 2
hurricane and hit near a port and an oil hub on the Mexican Gulf
Karl could make landfall by late Friday with winds of as much as
100 mph (160 kph) near the oil hub of Poza Rica, according to the
U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
The storm had weakened as it moved over the Yucatan, downing
tree limbs and causing power outages, but once over the Gulf water
its winds built back up to about 65 mph (100 kph), and it was
expected to quickly reach hurricane strength.
By early Thursday, Karl was about 110 miles (180 kms) off the
Yucatan peninsula, about 350 miles (560 kms) east of Tuxpan. But it
was heading west at a rapid clip of about 9 mph (15 kph).
Poza Rica, while slightly inland, houses important pipelines,
and gas and oil-processing plants operated by the state-owned oil
company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. The company said it had no
immediate plans to halt production at the plants because of the
Tuxpan is an old port city of about 135,000 located on a river
near the coast.
In the Atlantic, Hurricane Igor spun into a dangerous Category 4
storm that could generate dangerous rip currents along the U.S.
East Coast over the weekend and bring large swells to the Bahamas
and Virgin Islands before that. Category 2 Hurricane Julia was not
a threat to land.
In Mexico, the government issued a hurricane watch for its
eastern Gulf Coast from La Cruz in the northern state of Tamaulipas
south to a point just north of the city of Veracruz.
On Wednesday, Karl made landfall on the Mexican Caribbean coast
about midway between the cruise ship port of Majahual and the
coastal town of Xcalak.
Violeta Pineda, who has operated thatched-roof bungalows known
as the Hotel Kabah Na for 13 years, said waves were rolling about
25 yards (meters) onto the beach and eating away at a stretch of
road that runs along the coast.
"There is a lot of wind," said Pineda, whose hotel is about 5
miles (8 kilometers) south of Majahual.
Electricity went out briefly around Majahual. But the town took
an almost-direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Dean in 2007 - the
third most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to hit land - and
"this is nothing in comparison," said Pineda.
Karl's center passed close to Chetumal, the capital of Quintana
Chetumal suffered minor flooding and the storm knocked down tree
limbs, downing power cables and cutting power to some areas of the
city, said Damaris Victoriano Rascon, an employee of the city civil
defense office. She said there were no reports of injuries in the
On the other side of the Atlantic, Julia briefly intensified
into a powerful Category 4 storm Wednesday before weakening to a
Category 2 storm early Thursday with maximum sustained winds near
105 mph (165 kph). Hurricane Igor's top winds increased Thursday to
near 145 mph (230 kph).