Ida grows into a hurricane

CANCUN, Mexico — Ida grew into a hurricane for a second time as it roared over the Caribbean on a path that could take it between Mexico's resort-studded Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba before heading for the southern United States.


Tour operators and fishermen along Mexico's Caribbean coast, including Cancun, pulled their boats out of the water Saturday in anticipation of rains and winds from Ida's outer bands. But the hurricane appeared unlikely to make direct hits on either Mexico or Cuba, with its forecast track passing over the Yucatan Channel that separates the countries on Sunday.

Cancun's beaches were empty on Saturday as rain began pelting down, but tourists walked the streets under umbrellas or improvised rain ponchos. Most appeared unconcerned.

"We're not too worried. I'll get some good pictures," said Steve Rydgren, a 30-year-old photographer from Seattle, as he arrived in Cancun for a one-year anniversary vacation with his 29-year-old wife Stacy.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's winds had picked up to 90 mph, making it a Category 1 storm. Ida plowed into Nicaragua's Atlantic coast on Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane, laying waste to 500 homes and damaging bridges, power lines, roads and public buildings, before weakening into a tropical storm.

Forecasters predicted Ida would weaken over the Gulf of Mexico to tropical storm strength and possibly brush the U.S. Gulf Coast next week. The hurricane center forecast that Ida could strengthen to Category 2 later today.

Realtor Beth Conway, 41, from Sacramento, California, said she was happy just to be in Cancun.

"We don't really care if it's rainy or sunny," Conway said as she gathered her luggage at the Cancun airport. "We were just hoping they weren't going to cancel our flight."

Mexico issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, from Playa del Carmen to Cabo Catoche, including Cancun and Cozumel. meaning that hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.

Tropical-storm warnings remain in effect for the Yucatan Peninsula from Punta Allen northward to San Felipe, and western Cuba and Grand Cayman Island.



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