Storm Orlene strengthens to hurricane force off Mexico’s coast

Tropical storm Orlene has intensified into a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to make landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast in coming days, the US National Hurricane Center said Saturday.

“On the forecast track, the center of Orlene should pass near or over Las Islas Marias Sunday night or Monday morning and reach the coast of mainland Mexico later on Monday or Monday night,” the NHC said.

With maximum sustained winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, Orlene now qualifies as a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.

As of 1500 GMT, it was 210 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes, in Mexico’s western Jalisco state, and 275 miles south of the Islas Marias, off the coast of the northwestern state of Nayarit, the NHC said.

The storm is rumbling slowly northward but is expected to gain speed and take a more northeasterly path beginning late Saturday, the hurricane center said.

Hurricanes tend to strike both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Mexico in a season that lasts from May to November.

In October 1997, Huricane Paula barreled into the Pacific coast as a Category 4 storm. It claimed more than 200 lives.

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