MEXICO CITY Hurricane Paine strengthened off Mexico's Pacific coast on Monday, though the storm is forecast to weaken substantially before reaching land later this week, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Mexico has issued tropical storm watches from Punta Eugenia to Cabo San Quintin for Paine, which is now expected to hit the upper portion of the Baja California peninsula by early Wednesday, the Miami-based center said.
At 1 p.m. Mexico City time (2 p.m. ET), Paine was 295 miles (475 km) southwest of Cabo San Lazaro, with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) and moving north-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph), the NHC said.
The hurricane could still strengthen further on Monday, before beginning to weaken steadily through the night, and it is due to be a tropical depression by the time it reaches the coast, the center said.
Paine was expected to dump 2 inches to 4 inches (5-10 cm) of rain on the northern Baja California peninsula, and up to 6 inches in some areas.
Mexican national oil company Pemex [PEMX.UL] has no major installations in the area.
(Writing by Dave Graham; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)