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Tropical Storm Larry Floods Mexican Homes

October 6, 2003

SANCHEZ MAGALLANES, Mexico (AP) _ Tropical Storm Larry flooded homes and dumped heavy rains on Mexico’s southern Gulf coast Sunday even as it slowed and weakened. Two hurricanes churning to the west in the Pacific threatened to deliver more damage.

Hurricane Olaf gained strength 90 miles off Mexico’s southwest coast and Hurricane Nora was churning off the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. The two hurricanes were moving northwest parallel to the coast but were predicted to turn toward land near Baja California, which has already suffered through two hurricanes already this season.

Tropical Storm Larry, meanwhile, came onshore early Sunday at the narrow neck of land at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where it began to weaken. Larry had dumped more than 8 inches of rain on El Carmen on the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico’s National Meteorological Service reported.

It turned the fishing village Isla Paraiso into a ghost town, with water standing 3-feet deep in some houses. Still, Larry was fading by late afternoon and was expected to weaken to a tropical depression Sunday night, the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned.

The storm’s winds dropped to 40 mph Sunday as it moved inland.

``We came out better than we thought we would,″ said Fernandez Straffon, spokesman for the Tabasco state government. ``We hope by morning it will have moved on.″

Tabasco authorities supplied shelter, food and water to 498 people forced from their homes to shelters by Larry, but the state had no serious storm-related injuries or deaths to report, Straffon said.

Larry was moving erratically Sunday evening but was expected to head south toward the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. In Chiapas, authorities prepared for the worst by opening storm shelters.

Heavy rains from Larry still could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, the hurricane center warned. It predicted rainfall of between 8 inches and 12 inches with even higher amounts in some locations hit by the storm, and the precipitation comes on top of a heavy monsoon season that produced swollen rivers and reservoirs.

The storm had been strong enough Sunday morning that Alicia Tejera left her home in Malatinero before dawn for a public shelter carrying a 2-day-old child in her arms.

``I risked going out with my son, and it was worth it,″ Tejera said. ``I didn’t know if this storm could cause a lot more damage.″

The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning Sunday for the Pacific coast as Olaf packed winds of 75 mph and was expected to strengthen over the next several days.

The warning was in effect from Punta San Telmo to San Blas, and a broader tropical storm warning covered the coast from San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas. Olaf was moving northwest at 12 mph.

Hurricane Nora’s winds reached 105 mph over the weekend, although the hurricane was expected to weaken as it turns toward the coast of the Baja California peninsula.

Hurricane Kate, meanwhile, was still churning out in the Atlantic, far from land, but it weakened slightly with winds dropping from 115 mph to 90 mph Sunday. Kate was expected to continue weakening as it moves closer to Newfoundland in eastern Canada sometime Tuesday.

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