Karl enters the Gulf; becomes a hurricane
Hurricane Karl takes aim at Mexican Gulf coast(Associated Press)
VERACRUZ, Mexico — Karl reached hurricane force in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday after dumping heavy rain on the Yucatan Peninsula. It was expected to strengthen more before hitting Mexico's coast near a port and an oil hub late during the night or early Friday.Karl is expected to strengthen and may even become a major hurricane. It is expected to produce very heavy surf as it slams into the Mexican coast with a storm surge as high as 9 feet above normal levels.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said there was a possibility that Karl could become a major hurricane with winds of 110 mph (175 kph) or higher before making landfall.
The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for a 150-mile (250-kilometer) stretch of coast in Veracruz state. On its predicted path, Karl could make landfall near the coastal city of Tuxpan and the oil hub of Poza Rica.
Authorities in Veracruz — whose southern half has been battered by severe flooding over the past few weeks — prepared for a hit on its northern coast, getting ready sleeping mats, bottled water and other supplies for anyone needing to take refuge in shelters.
Workers in the port city of Veracruz cut dangerous tree limbs and inspected billboards to make sure they would not become flying debris if the hurricane hit.
By early Thursday, Karl was about 310 miles (500 kilometers) east of Tuxpan, with winds of 75 mph (120 kph). It was moving westward rapidly at about 12 mph (19 kph).
Hurricane Karl churns in the Bay of Campeche(NOLA)
Reports from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph with higher gusts. Karl is a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Additional strengthening is likely and Karl could approach major hurricane strength before the center reaches the Mexican coast.
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 10 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70
miles. Minimum central pressure just reported by the hurricane hunter is 983 mb.
A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast near and to the north of where the center makes landfall. Near the coast the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Within the hurricane warning area tropical storm conditions are expected by Friday with hurricane conditions expected by late Friday and Friday night.
Karl is expected to produce rainfall accumulations of five to 10 inches across the central and southern Mexican Gulf Coast region with isolated amounts of 15 inches possible in the interior mountains. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.