(Updates with fresh quotes, storm coordinates)
By David Alire Garcia
ACAPULCO, Mexico Oct 21 Ports were closed,
school classes were suspended and hundreds of people were
evacuated along Mexico's southern Pacific coast on Monday as a
major hurricane loomed over a region still recovering from
record flooding a few weeks ago.
Raymond, a category three hurricane, was stationary with
winds blowing up to 125 miles per hour (205 kph) on Monday,
around 105 miles (169 km) offshore. Forecasters said it could
move closer to the coast before heading out to sea.
The hurricane was already dumping steady rain on coastal
areas including Acapulco, where storms wrecked homes, roads and
cars and stranded tourists last month.
By early afternoon, parts of the city were covered with
water, its port was closed and many roads were washed out.
Acapulco's beaches were almost deserted on Monday afternoon as
winds picked up.
"This is really bad luck after (tropical storm) Manuel,"
said Anaberta Lopez, 26, who works on the city's beaches
braiding tourists' hair, surveying a vacant stretch of sand.
"There's no work now and people here live off tourism."
The Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center said Raymond,
the first major hurricane of the Eastern Pacific season, was
expected to start to weaken on Tuesday.
Mexico has no major oil installations in the area threatened
by Raymond, which has swirled around 160 miles (255 km)
west-southwest of Acapulco since Sunday night.
Mexico's Gulf Coast is also facing heavy rains due to the
advance of a cold front from the north, which has halted
Raymond's progress in the south, the government said.
"If (Raymond) carries on moving at this speed and the cold
front keeps holding it, we'll have permanent rain for the next
72 hours," Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico's national
emergency services, told a news conference in Acapulco.
Hurricane alerts are in place from Acapulco, which lies in
Guerrero state, to Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan state. More than
800 people have been evacuated from the northwestern fringe of
Guerrero down to Acapulco, emergency services said.
Anticipating heavy rains, schools closed in Acapulco, in
Lazaro Cardenas and other parts of the southwestern coast. The
port in Lazaro Cardenas was also closed, the government said.
Rainfall during the next few days could trigger
life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, the NHC said.
Angel Aguirre, the governor of Guerrero, urged people to
leave areas at high risk of flooding, and Michoacan's government
said all maritime activity and road travel should be avoided.
Mexico suffered its worst floods on record in mid-September
when tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid converged from the
Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, killing more than 150 people and
causing damage estimated at around $6 billion.
Some 5,700 people are still living in shelters in Acapulco
due to the impact of those storms, the Guerrero government said.
Acapulco, whose economy relies heavily on tourism, saw hotel
occupancy rates plunge to record lows after the storms, which
also knocked out the city's airport for a time. As of Monday
afternoon, Acapulco's airport was still open.
The flooding, mudslides and displacement of thousands of
people caused by the recent storms have heightened the risk of
waterborne illness in Mexico. The country has recorded its first
local transmission of cholera in just over a decade.
(Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Dave Graham;
Editing by Simon Gardner and Eric Walsh)