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Hurricane Paula forms, heads to Yucatan Peninsula

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By Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Hurricane Paula smashed homes and forced schools to close in Honduras on Tuesday as it headed toward Mexico's resort-dotted Yucatan Peninsula.

Paula formed Monday off the coast of Honduras and quickly intensified into a hurricane early Tuesday, said the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

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.

Tuesday morning, it had winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was centered about 155 miles (245 kilometers) south-southeast of the resort island of Cozumel in Mexico.

Paula was moving toward the northwest at nearly 10 mph (17 kph), bringing it near the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Tuesday night. The forecast track would have the storm a little offshore of Cancun, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres near the tip of the Peninsula late Wednesday night.

The Hurricane Center said the storm was likely to gain force, though it was not expected to become a major hurricane.

Paula was expected to dump from 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of Honduras, northern Belize, eastern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and parts of western and central Cuba.


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