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Storm Jova drenches western Mexico
by Staff Writers
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (AFP) Oct 12, 2011

A woman wades through a flooded street in Mexico. Photo courtesy AFP.

Jova lost its hurricane status Wednesday but remained a deadly threat as a tropical storm, dumping torrential rain across much of Mexico's Pacific coast and triggering flooding and power cuts.

The weakened storm, which roared ashore in Jalisco state Tuesday as a category two hurricane, still packed a punch one day later, with sustained winds topping 100 kilometers (65 miles) per hour.

Jova uprooted trees and knocked down protective walls as it lashed western Mexico, with officials warning of flash floods and mudslides.

The storm was moving inland at about six miles (nine kilometers) per hour and was expected to weaken further, eventually dissipating on Thursday, but Jova's "heavy rainfall remains a major threat," the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported in its latest bulletin.

The NHC said that despite the downgrade, Jova could deposit as much as a half-meter (20 inches) of rain in some areas, its downpours creating perilous conditions in parts of heavily-touristed southwestern Mexico.

The heavy precipitation could cause "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides over steep terrain," the NHC said. Dangerous storm surges and coastal flooding also were likely Wednesday, accompanied by "large and destructive waves."

The storm battered Mexico just as thousands of athletes from around the world began arriving for this week's Pan American Games, which begin on Friday in Guadalajara, the Jalisco state capital more than 100 kilometers from the coast.

Authorities there insisted the games, one of the premier events on the global sports calendar, would not be affected.

"We have no reports of difficulties on the premises and we hope that by tomorrow (Thursday) this will be behind us," Mayor Salvador Gonzalez said.

The games are to be held from October 14-30 in Jalisco and other area cities, including Ciudad Guzman, Puerto Vallarta, Lagos de Moreno and Tapalpa, with some 6,000 athletes from 42 nations expected to participate.

The storm felled trees and toppled signs as it crashed ashore 45 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of Punta Farallon, near the busy port of Manzanillo some 800 kilometers west of Mexico City.

Hours later it was just 20 kilometers east of Puerto Vallarta. Authorities in the regional tourist hub advised people to stock up on food, then shutter their homes and stay indoors.

Mexican troops on Wednesday patrolled the streets of Manzanillo, some of which were under more than a meter (three feet) of water, according to an AFP photographer.

All port and marine activity has been halted there, and several beachfront restaurants were under threat as a retaining wall collapsed.

A civil protection officer in Jalisco told AFP that two people were slightly injured when a wall gave way in Barra de Navidad.

Several communities experienced power outages and some schools canceled classes Wednesday, while 170 people living in high-risk areas moved to shelters.

Several major storms or hurricanes have buffeted Mexico's Pacific coast in recent months but most have remained offshore.

The season's first named storm, Arlene, left at least 16 people dead and drenched much of the country in July.

Tropical storms and hurricanes last year caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico that killed 125 people, left hundreds of thousands homeless and caused more than $4 billion in damage.

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Heavy rains pummel Central America, 18 dead
Guatemala City (AFP) Oct 12, 2011 - At least 18 were killed when torrential rains slammed large swaths of Central America, officials said Wednesday, with flooding and landslides affecting more than 30,000 people.

Guatemala was worst hit by the heavy rains brought by tropical depression "12-E," with President Alvaro Colom telling reporters at least 13 people were killed, including four people who were electrocuted in floods.

The other victims were claimed by flooding from swollen rivers and landslides, said Colom, urging travelers to be cautious on roads in danger of being washed away.

One death was recorded in neighboring El Salvador, and to the south in Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega announced the deaths of four people.

The heavy rains brought by tropical depression have soaked the region since Monday and will likely continue for another 48 hours, Colom warned, calling on governors of his country's 22 departments to stay on high alert.

He urged vigilance as he recalled the damage wrought by Tropical Storm Agatha last year that slammed the region and left 174 people dead in Guatemala alone.

In El Salvador officials announced the death of 19-year-old woman who was buried under a collapsed wall attributed to the heavy rains, while some 2,000 people were evacuated following flooding.

The tropical depression is unrelated to the massive storm system to the north, the former hurricane Jova, that roared onto the southwestern Mexican coast on Tuesday, triggering flooding and power cuts.


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Hurricane Jova barrels into Mexico's Pacific coast
Manzanillo, Mexico (AFP) Oct 11, 2011
Hurricane Jova barreled into Mexico's Pacific coast late Tuesday, according to the national weather service, unleashing torrential rains and threatening devastating mudslides. "Jova is landing on the coast of Jalisco, 45 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of Punta Farallon," meteorologist Marco Antonio Lugo told AFP, adding that it was a category two storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson wind ... read more

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