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Associated Press, Published September 15 2010

Tropical storm Karl hits Mexico's Yucatan

CANCUN, Mexico — A strong Tropical Storm Karl made landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday, hitting a sparsely populated stretch of Caribbean coast, while two Category 4 hurricanes roared further out in the Atlantic.

Karl made landfall about 30 miles (50 kilometers) up the coast from the Quintana Roo state capital of Chetumal, with winds of about 63 to 65 mph (100 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm hit about midway between the cruise ship port of Majahual and the coastal town of Xcalak.

Violeta Pineda, who has operated thatch-roof bungalows known as the Hotel Kabah Na for 13 years, said waves were rolling about 25 yards (meters) onto the beach and eating away at a stretch of road that runs along the coast.

"There is a lot of wind," said Pineda, whose hotel is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of Majahual.

Electricity went out briefly around Majahual. But the town took an almost-direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Dean in 2007 — the third most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to hit land — and "this is nothing in comparison," said Pineda.

Karl's center passed just a few miles (kilometers) from the state capital with winds of 60 mph (95 kph).

It was expected to quickly weaken into a tropical depression as it slogs across the flat peninsula before heading back out over the Gulf of Mexico. Once in the Gulf, it is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by the end of the week and threaten the central Mexican coast.

Authorities on the Yucatan warned of heavy rains but said they saw no need yet for evacuations. The storm threw doubt over the area's celebration of Mexico's bicentennial anniversary of independence from Spain, although there was no immediate decision to cancel festivities.

But Mexico issued a tropical storm watch for the west coast of the Yucatan peninsula — where the storm is expected to re-enter the Gulf — from Ciudad del Carmen north to Celestun.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Hurricane Julia rapidly intensified into a powerful Category 4 storm early Wednesday, and still far from land, Hurricane Igor's top winds weakened slightly. Neither posed any immediate threat to land, though forecasters said Igor could hit Bermuda on Sunday.

Julia had maximum sustained winds of near 135 mph (215 kph). Also far from land over the Atlantic, Hurricane Igor's top winds weakened to 135 mph (215 kph).


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.