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Cat. 2 Paula roars off Cancun, threatens Cuba

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CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Paula roared off Mexico's top vacation resort of Cancun on Wednesday without immediate reports of major damage, and it was projected to veer into western Cuba's cigar-producting country.

The Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph), swiped at the island of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres overnight during its northward trek. Late Wednesday morning, the storm was centered about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Cabo Catoche on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Paula was expected to shift to the northeast and weaken slightly on a course that would carry it into western Cuba by Wednesday night or early Thursday.

Cuba's Civil Defense warned the population in Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud to watch out for heavy rains and flooding.

There were no immediate reports of major problems in Cancun or other resort areas. Quintana Roo state officials said they could guarantee the security of all 27,000 tourists currently in the state during the October off-season.

"We can declare the coasts completely out of danger," Quintana Roo Gov. Felix Gonzalez said. "The hurricane is leaving, and we can lift the red alert."

He said some 1,500 islanders evacuated from Isla Holbox would return home Wednesday along with 60 fishermen from Isla Contoy. Transportation resumed to Cozumel, where there were about 1,800 tourists, after being suspended overnight.

Quintana Roo state prosecutors said a U.S. man drowned when he went swimming in heavy surf near his hotel. Mickey Goodwin, a 54-year-old Texas resident, ignored warnings and red flags alerting to dangerous waters, authorities said in a statement.

In Cancun, more than 20 domestic and international flights had been canceled.

Dozens of boat owners in Cancun had hauled yachts and other vessels to shore, while sea tour operators canceled reservations. Along Cancun's popular strip of night clubs and discotheques, workers took down billboards and other large objects ahead of heavy winds.

Early Tuesday, heavy rains and high winds destroyed 19 homes in northeastern Honduras, said Lisandro Rosales, head of Honduras' emergency agency. Officials closed schools along the country's Atlantic coast and some airports were reported closed.

As of 11 a.m. EDT, Paula was centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west-southwest of the western tip of Cuba and that island nation was expected to feel tropical-storm-force winds by the afternoon, the hurricane center in Miami said.

Paula earlier drenched Honduras, northern Belize, eastern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula and was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rains to western and central Cuba.

Forecasters warned of possible flooding and landslides and suggested residents avoid fishing trips or water sports.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Summary

Date:

10/13/2010 12:08 PM

Slug:

BC-Tropical Weather,5th Ld-Writethru

Headline:

Cat. 2 Paula roars off Cancun, threatens Cuba

Source:

AP

Byline:

GABRIEL ALCOCER,Associated Press Writer

Copyright Holder:

AP

Priority:

r (4)

With Photo:

Dateline:

CANCUN, Mexico

Lead

Editors' Note:

Eds: Updates with 11 a.m. EDT storm location, comments from Quintana Roo governor, Cuban civil defense. Trims. AP Video. For global distribution. This story is part of AP's general news and financial services.

Word Count:

501

File Name (Transref):

APL2380 MXEV103 MXEV102 MXEV101 GFX927 NY2 NY110 1013dvs_tropical_weather

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Lead

AP Category:

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Format:

bx

 

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CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Paula roared off Mexico's top vacation resort of Cancun on Wednesday without immediate reports of major damage, and it was projected to veer into western Cuba's cigar-producting country. The Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph), swiped at the island of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres overnight during its northward trek. Late Wednesday morning, the storm was centered about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Cabo Catoche on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Paula was expected to shift to the northeast and weaken slightly on a course that would carry it into western Cuba by Wednesday night or early Thursday. Cuba's Civil Defense warned the population in Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud to watch out for heavy rains and flooding. There were no immediate reports of major problems in Cancun or other resort areas. Quintana Roo state officials said they could guarantee the security of all 27,000 tourists currently in the state during the October off-season. "We can declare the coasts completely out of danger," Quintana Roo Gov. Felix Gonzalez said. "The hurricane is leaving, and we can lift the red alert." He said some 1,500 islanders evacuated from Isla Holbox would return home Wednesday along with 60 fishermen from Isla Contoy. Transportation resumed to Cozumel, where there were about 1,800 tourists, after being suspended overnight. Quintana Roo state prosecutors said a U.S. man drowned when he went swimming in heavy surf near his hotel. Mickey Goodwin, a 54-year-old Texas resident, ignored warnings and red flags alerting to dangerous waters, authorities said in a statement. In Cancun, more than 20 domestic and international flights had been canceled. Dozens of boat owners in Cancun had hauled yachts and other vessels to shore, while sea tour operators canceled reservations. Along Cancun's popular strip of night clubs and discotheques, workers took down billboards and other large objects ahead of heavy winds. Early Tuesday, heavy rains and high winds destroyed 19 homes in northeastern Honduras, said Lisandro Rosales, head of Honduras' emergency agency. Officials closed schools along the country's Atlantic coast and some airports were reported closed. As of 11 a.m. EDT, Paula was centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west-southwest of the western tip of Cuba and that island nation was expected to feel tropical-storm-force winds by the afternoon, the hurricane center in Miami said. Paula earlier drenched Honduras, northern Belize, eastern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula and was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rains to western and central Cuba. Forecasters warned of possible flooding and landslides and suggested residents avoid fishing trips or water sports.

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