Sunday August 19, 2012
Hurricane Gordon threatens Azores
MIAMI: The Azores islands were bracing for a hit from Hurricane Gordon, which grew into a powerful category two storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, US forecasters said.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Gordon strengthened into the Atlantic season's third hurricane earlier, while Helene made landfall as a weak tropical storm on the eastern Mexican coast.
Gordon was about 590 miles (950 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores in the central Atlantic Ocean at 2100 GMT, heading east at 21 miles per hour, the NHC said. Its top winds were swirling at 105 miles per hour.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the central and eastern Azores. "Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the NHC said.
The hurricane center predicted the storm could continue to strengthen slightly before weakening Sunday over cooler waters as it approaches the archipelago.
The bulletin cautioned Gordon could remain near hurricane strength as it passes near the eastern Azores late Sunday and Monday. The NHC warned that Gordon could cause "dangerous surf and rip current conditions" at the time.
Meanwhile, Helene weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland just west-northwest of Tampico, in eastern Mexico. But it was still producing heavy rains, with up to eight inches (20 centimeters) forecast in some areas.
Forecasters said Helene was traveling west-northwestward at about five miles per hour, with maximum sustained winds of just 30 miles per hour.
The storm center warned of heavy rains in northeastern Mexico along with strong winds near the coast of northern Veracruz and southern Tamaulipas states before Helene dissipates later Saturday or on Sunday. - AFP