Humberto lashes Bermuda

Hurricane Humberto lashed Bermuda with strong winds Wednesday as the powerful Category 3 storm passed just to the north of the British Atlantic territory, while a newly formed hurricane threatened tourist resorts along Mexico's Pacific coast.

The hurricane came within about 75 miles of Bermuda before moving away out toward open waters late Wednesday.

Bermuda Gov. John Rankin put 120 soldiers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment on alert for possible recovery efforts and National Security Minister Wayne Caines cautioned everyone to stay inside until Humberto's winds subsided Thursday. Authorities had ordered early closings of schools, clinics and government offices.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said hurricane-force winds began to hit the island of some 70,000 people by late afternoon and tropical storm-strength winds would last into early Thursday.

Humberto's maximum sustained winds were holding at 120 mph late Wednesday. The storm was centred about 130 miles north-northeast of Bermuda and was moving east-northeast at 23 mph.

James Dodgson, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, warned that the storm could produce tornadoes and dangerous storm surge.

"Humberto's a big hurricane and we're looking at the conditions already deteriorating. There's some very strong winds kicking in," he said.

Caines said non-emergency medical services would be closed until Thursday. Evening flights from the U.S. and Britain had been cancelled.

"We'd like to ask all of Bermuda to prepare for the storm, to know that the government and everyone is rooting for us, and we can get through this," Caines said. "We've been through this before."

Meanwhile, new Hurricane Lorena posed an increasing threat to tourist resorts on Mexico's Pacific Coast and the Baja California Peninsula.

Forecasters said Lorena's core was expected to pass "near or over the southwestern coast" somewhere between the port of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday night and Thursday. The still-uncertain long-term forecast track showed it approaching the Los Cabos resort area Friday night and Saturday.

Maximum sustained winds were 75 mph Wednesday night. It was centred about 35 miles southwest of Manzanillo and was moving northwest at 12 mph.

Hurricane warnings were in effect from Punta San Telmo to Cabo Corrientes.

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