Local News

Dangerous Hurricane Spins Toward Mexico's...

Posted October 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Heavy rain and surf pelted Mexico's southern Pacific coast today, as Hurricane Pauline spun toward land packing 130 mph winds. 

Landfall for what hurricane experts called a ``very dangerous'' storm was expected this evening somewhere along the Oaxaca or Guerrero state coast. 

Oaxaca state authorities set up 75 emergency shelters and federal officials closed six major ports between Acapulco and Puerto Madero, Chiapas, on the country's southwestern Pacific coast. 

Lawn chairs, kayaks and surfboards were cleared from the beaches as Pauline approached. For some tourists in this resort area, the looming storm was too much. 

``I'm going to bail out before it gets here,'' said Jim Ferguson, a 43-year-old software designer from Glen Ellyn, Ill. ``I'm not going to sit around for 100 mph winds to get here. I'm on vacation.'' 

The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Pauline - which was about 60 miles offshore at mid-day - would remain strong as it moved northwest at 7 mph. 

Hurricane-force winds spread out up to 35 miles from the eye of the storm. The storm's winds increased to 130 mph as it headed toward land. 

In Santa Cruz, Red Cross workers set up two shelters, but didn't expect anyone to take advantage of them. ``We just want to be prepared in case,'' said area Red Cross coordinator Radames Argente Estrada. 

Sixteen-foot seas were reported close to the storm and gusting winds swayed palm trees and drove intermittent rain over Huatulco, a resort jutting from Oaxaca state's rocky coast. 

But forecasters were keeping a wary eye on the hurricane. 

``This is a very dangerous hurricane. This is the real thing and I don't see anything to make Pauline weaken before it hits the coast,'' forecaster Max Mayfield at the Miami center said Tuesday. 

Rainfall of 5 to 10 inches with locally higher amounts was forecast along Pauline's path, the hurricane center reported, raising warnings of possible life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. 

Passage of a previous storm, Olaf, last week over this same Pacific stretch caused flooding and heavy rains in southernmost Mexico and parts of Guatemala and El Salvador that were blamed in the deaths of at least 18 people. 

By NIKO PRICE,Associated Press Writer 

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