2 tropical storms gaining force off Mexico’s coast


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two new tropical storms were strengthening off Mexico on Monday and both were projected to reach hurricane force while marching northwestward parallel to the coast, bringing heavy surf.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm John was expected to strengthen rapidly and become a hurricane by Monday and a major hurricane by Tuesday. Tropical Storm Ileana also was growing while racing John up the coastline and was forecast to reach hurricane strength later Monday.

John was centered about 340 miles (545 kilometers) southwest of the Mexican port of Manzanillo Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph). It was moving west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph). It was forecast to peak as a Category 3 storm before starting to weaken, while staying to the west of the Baja California Peninsula during the week.

Closer to shore was Ileana, which was centered about 245 miles (395 kilometers) southeast of Manzanillo. It had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) and was heading northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).

Ileana had a potential to brush Mexico’s southwestern shoulder as a hurricane along the coastal area near Manzanillo early Tuesday, with the possibility for heavy rains and flash flooding. Authorities posted a hurricane watch from Punta San Telmo in Michoacan state to Playa Perula in Jalisco state.

It was projected to weaken later Tuesday due to its proximity to the larger storm, John.

Farther out to sea, a strengthening Hurricane Hector headed for the central Pacific as a Category 4 storm, with winds of 145 mph (230 kph), the Center Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu reported. It was centered about 930 miles (1,495 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph).

Hector also posed no immediate threat to land, but forecasters said people in Hawaii should monitor the storm’s progress as it was projected to pass just south of the islands by midweek.

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