Tropical storm hits Mexican resort

October 21, 2009 2:40:53 PM PDT
Tropical Storm Rick hit Mexico's Pacific coast just north of the resort of Mazatlan on Wednesday, toppling trees and signs, after sparing Los Cabos on the Baja California peninsula a direct blow. The center of the storm made landfall around 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) with winds of about 55 mph (90 kph), kicking up high waves that drew residents of Mazatlan to the city's seaside boulevard to watch the spectacle.

After moving over land, the storm dissipated by the afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Authorities had no immediate reports of significant damage, though a steady rain had pelted the city since late Tuesday and several trees were toppled by the storm's winds. Electricity was knocked out in parts of the city, Sinaloa Gov. Jesus Aguilar told local media.

Authorities canceled classes in the southern part of Sinaloa state, where Mazatlan is located, and urged residents to evacuate some low-lying neighborhoods.

Tourists in Los Cabos, meanwhile, awoke to a blue, cloud-streaked sky Wednesday morning. There were no reports of flooding overnight, according to Los Cabos civil defense director Francisco Cota.

Forecasters said the remnants of Rick could dump about one inch of rain in parts of northern Mexico, creating the risk of flash floods and mudslides.

Over the weekend, Rick's winds were clocked at 180 mph (290 kph) -- making it the strongest hurricane in the eastern North Pacific region since 1997 -- and it kicked up high waves hundreds of miles (kilometers) away that killed at least two people. But the storm spent its force far out at sea and weakened over cooler waters.

Far out in the Pacific Ocean, meanwhile, Hurricane Neki strengthened to a Category 3 storm with top winds near 115 mph.

Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Neki was centered about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) west-southwest of Honolulu and about 410 miles (660 kilometers) south of French Frigate Shoals.

A hurricane warning was issued for part of the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument, a marine conservation area northwest of Hawaii.

Forecasters predicted Neki would probably pass wide of tiny Johnston Island, and a tropical storm watch was discontinued for the island.

The uninhabited island, which is part of the isolated Johnston Atoll, is under the primary jurisdiction and control of the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a national wildlife refuge there.

Also Wednesday, a river overflowed its banks in the Central American nation of Honduras, flooding hamlets and cutting off transport routes to several towns on the country's Caribbean coast.

Juan Cesar Cruz, the head of Honduras' civil defense agency, said a dozen roads had been cut by the flooding. The flooding was caused by heavy rains that started Sunday.

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