Hurricane Raymond has continued to strengthen off the coast of Mexico and is expected to bring heavy rain and life-threatening flash floods and mudslides to the country's southwestern coast.
The storm, now a Category 3 hurricane, is currently located about 115 miles south-southwest of the beach resort Zihuatanejo and 165 miles west-southwest of Acapulco, Mexico. While it is not expected to reach land, forecasters say the hurricane will still bring rainfall of up to 12 inches in some regions, as well as wind speeds of more than 120 mph.
Due to the strong winds and swift intensification, hurricane and tropical storm watches are in effect for much of the region.
"It is interesting to note that this cyclone has exhibited an impressive period of strengthening ... as it was only a minimal tropical storm at this time yesterday," says a forecast discussion issued Monday at 5 a.m. EDT from the National Hurricane Center.
Although the storm is expected to slowly weaken and begin to move westward by Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center says extreme weather conditions will still hit south-central Mexico, as the storm has stalled in the area and will move slowly to the north during the next two days.
David Korenfield, head of Mexico's National Water Commission, told The Associated Press that local officials are hoping a cold weather front moving in the opposite direction could help steer the storm away from the coast. But forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said coastal cities where watches and warnings are in effect – such as Tecpan de Galeana, Acapulco and Lazaro Cardenas – will still feel the effects of the storm.
"Regardless of the exact track of the hurricane and how close it gets to the coast, heavy rainfall will continue over south-central Mexico during the next few days ... causing life-threatening flash floods and mud slides," an advisory from the NHC says.
Thousands of people are still living away from their homes, one month after Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid hit Mexico from the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, respectively, in mid-September. The twin storms brought heavy rain, floods and landslides that killed more than 130 people.
The destructive weather expected to come with Raymond will affect the state of Guerrero, the same area hit by Hurricane Manuel. The last Category 3 hurricane that touched Mexican soil was Hurricane Karl, on Sept. 15, 2010, according to a statement from the Mexican government.