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Hurricane Orlene strengthens into Category 4 storm as it heads toward western Mexico


CNN

By Mike Saenz and Gene Norman, CNN meteorologists

Rapidly intensifying Category 4 Hurricane Orlene is approaching western Mexico, where it’s expected to cause life-threatening flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, was churning north at 7 mph Sunday morning about 175 miles south of Las Islas Marias, Mexico, the center said. Las Islas Marias — an archipelago roughly 60 miles off the mainland coast — is expected to face hurricane conditions by Sunday night.

Orlene is projected to reach the coast of mainland Mexico Monday or Monday night, making landfall just south of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, where life-threatening flash flooding is a concern, according to Mexico’s CONAGUA Agency.

Orlene’s sustained wind speed has picked up since late Saturday when the storm was at Category 2 intensity.

“Some additional strengthening is forecast through this morning, followed by weakening beginning later today and continuing until landfall,” the hurricane center said early Sunday.

The storm is expected produce heavy downpours, storm surge and landslides along the coast of western Mexico. The region is forecast to face 3 to 5 inches of rainfall, with local amounts of up to 10 inches.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Las Islas Marias and the coast of mainland Mexico from San Blas to Mazatlán. A hurricane watch is in effect for the coast of mainland Mexico from Playa Perula to San Blas and from Mazatlán to Bahia Tempehuaya, including the city of Puerto Vallarta.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of mainland Mexico from Playa Perula to San Blas. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of mainland Mexico from Manzanillo to Playa Perula.

Residents in the hurricane’s path are being advised to take extreme precautions due to the potential for life-threatening flooding, winds and dangerous rip currents.

Orlene is barreling towards Mexico just weeks after Hurricane Kay made landfall along the west coast of the central Baja California Peninsula as a Category 1 hurricane.

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