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Hurricane Kenna Gains Strength

October 24, 2002

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MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Hurricane Kenna gained strength and speed off Mexico’s Pacific coast late Wednesday, but forecasters said it likely would miss the tip of the Baja California Peninsula where Pacific Rim leaders were holding a summit.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Kenna likely would strengthen and hit Mexico’s mainland, between Mazatlan and Manzanillo, late Friday or early Saturday.

Mexico probably would have to issue hurricane watches along much of its Pacific coast Thursday, the center said.

Pacific Rim leaders are scheduled to meet in Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, over the weekend.

``Los Cabos is not in the threat zone as things are going right now,″ said Jack Beven, a hurricane center forecaster. ``If Kenna turns the way our projections show, it will miss them by enough that they won’t even get heavy winds or rains.″

Kenna was 430 miles southwest of Manzanillo at 11 p.m. EDT and was heading toward the west-northwest at 15 mph with maximum sustained winds of 98 mph and gusts approaching 120 mph.

The storm was expected to turn back to the northeast and could eventually hit the coast with winds of about 120 mph, forecasters said.

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