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Hurricane Hilary strengthens off Mexico's Pacific
by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Sept 22, 2011

Hurricane Hilary strengthened Thursday off the southwestern Pacific coast of Mexico, threatening to punish coastal areas with strong winds and heavy surf, forecasters said.

Hilary, a Category Two hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, was packing winds of 105 miles (165 kilometers) per hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in its 2100 GMT bulletin.

"Additional strengthening is expected, and Hilary could become a major hurricane by tonight," the Miami-based NHC said.

The center of the hurricane was located some 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of the Mexican resort city of Acapulco and moving in the open ocean towards the northwest at 10 miles (17 kilometers) per hour.

"On the forecast track the core of Hilary will continue to move parallel to the southwest coast of Mexico," the NHC said.

Mexican authorities warned that tropical storm-force winds and heavy surf could affect the coast, but Hilary was not seen as making a direct hit on land.

However the NHC warned that "any deviation to the north of the track could bring stronger winds to the coast."

Hilary is expected to drop between three and five inches (7.6 to 13 centimeters) across the southern Mexican state of Guerrero and southwestern Oaxaca, "with isolated amounts of 10 inches possible."

Hilary is a small storm: hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 kilometers) from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 kilometers), the NHC said.

Large swells generated by Hilary "likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions" are affecting parts of the southwestern Mexican coast, the NHC said.

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