Hurricane Paul strengthens, threatens southern Baja California

Hurricane Paul strengthened to a category two storm off Mexico's west coast Monday and was threatening southern Baja California, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Paul had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph) and had shifted direction, moving west-northwest near 5 mph (7 kph). The center said Paul could strengthen further and pick up speed over the course of the day.

The Mexican government issued a hurricane watch Sunday along the Baja California peninsula from Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip northward to Agua Blanca and across to La Paz on the east coast.

At 0900 GMT, the storm was about 765 kilometers (475 miles) south of Baja California's southern tip late Sunday, the hurricane center said, reports AP.

It said the storm was expected to turn progressively toward the north. "An increase in forward speed is expected later today," the center said.

The storm could hit Baja California sometime Tuesday before hitting mainland Mexico near the state of Sinaloa, if it follows its currently forecast path.

Mexico was hit by two Pacific hurricanes last month. Hurricane John battered a remote section of Baja California, killing five people and destroying 160 homes, while Hurricane Lane struck the Sinaloan resort town of Mazatlan, causing relatively minor damage.

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