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Article posted: 10/22/2013 6:12 PM

Storm weakens off Mexico coast, still rain threat

People are helped by federal police as they get off a truck to be taken to as makeshift shelter in the city of Chilpancingo, Mexico, Monday Oct. 21, 2013. At least 120 families from nearby communities were evacuated when Hurricane Raymond gained more strength and threatened to hurl heavy rains onto a sodden region already devastated by last month's Tropical Storm Manuel. (AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez)

People are helped by federal police as they get off a truck to be taken to as makeshift shelter in the city of Chilpancingo, Mexico, Monday Oct. 21, 2013. At least 120 families from nearby communities were evacuated when Hurricane Raymond gained more strength and threatened to hurl heavy rains onto a sodden region already devastated by last month's Tropical Storm Manuel. (AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez)

 
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By Associated Press

ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Hurricane Raymond weakened to barely a Category 1 storm Tuesday while still stalled off Mexico's Pacific coast, pumping rain onto an already sodden region recovering from a battering by a tropical storm last month.

Raymond was centered 100 miles from the beach resort of Zihuatanejo late Tuesday afternoon, and its winds had dropped to 75 mph, down from Category 3 on Monday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was expected to weaken to a tropical storm by Wednesday and head out to sea.

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But stung by the tardy reaction to the damage and deaths from Tropical Storm Manuel in September, authorities in Guerrero state took no chances, moving hundreds of people from isolated mountain communities and low-lying shore areas. More than 1,500 soldiers were sent into the area.

Even if Raymond didn't move inland, it could still cause floods and mudslides to an area reeling from more than $1.7 billion in damage and about 120 deaths from Manuel.

"Slow and erratic motion is expected during the next 12 hours and Raymond could still move closer to the coast of Mexico," the hurricane center said.

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre urged people to stay off roads because of potentially dangerous rains.

"The phenomenon's behavior is completely erratic, completely unpredictable," Aguirre said Monday night.

There were no reports of torrential downpours, but rain fell and some streets flooded in soaked Acapulco, where city workers reinforced roads with sand bags. About 400 people were evacuated from hamlets around nearby Coyuca.

Schools in most coastal communities west of Acapulco, including Zihuatanejo, were kept closed.

Forecasters said Raymond was expected to follow an erratic path into the night, possibly getting closer to the coast, then turn sharply westward and head out into the Pacific on Wednesday. But it could still bring as much as 12 inches of rain to some parts of the coast.

About 10,000 people in Guerrero already were living away from their homes a month after Manuel inundated whole neighborhoods and caused landslides that buried much of one village. It left behind drenched hillsides that pose serious landslide risks.

A hurricane warning was in effect from Tecpan de Galeana, up the coast from Acapulco, north to the port of Lazaro Cardenas. A tropical storm warning was posted from Acapulco to Tecpan.

Meanwhile in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lorenzo strengthened far out to sea. Lorenzo's maximum sustained winds were over 50 mph with little change in strength forecast. The storm was centered about 830 miles east of Bermuda and was moving east near 8 mph.

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