Pair of storms hit Mexico, Caribbean

Sunday, September 2, 2007

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada -- Hurricane Felix gathered strength Saturday and pounded Grenada with heavy rains and winds, snapping small boats loose from their moorings and toppling utility poles on its route toward the Caribbean island of Aruba.

The storm was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane Saturday evening, with sustained maximum winds near 75 mph. It was expected to strengthen even further as its outer bands started hitting the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao late Saturday or early today.

Tropical Storm Henriette, meanwhile, was moving out to sea after dumping rain on Mexico's Pacific coastline. In Acapulco, the storm loosened a hillside in one of the resort's poor neighborhoods, causing landslides Saturday that killed six people and prompted evacuations.

Felix swept over Grenada on Saturday, knocking local radio and TV stations out of service and toppling utility lines. No injuries were immediately reported, but the storm ripped roofs off at least two homes and a popular concert venue was demolished. Orchards were left in ruin.

Jess Charles, 29, said he and his family were terrified as they hunkered down overnight in their house in the Grenadian town of Calliste, listening to the storm's howling winds.

"It was really very, very scary. The wind was blowing so hard we thought our roof might come off," Charles said.

Felix became the sixth named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season early Saturday, spawning thunderstorms and downing trees in Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. The Caribbean islands reported only minor damage.

At 7 p.m., Felix was centered about 155 miles east of Bonaire and 270 miles east of Aruba and was moving westward at about 18 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters said satellite loops show the storm is steadily expanding in size.

In Aruba, about 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela, residents stocked up on groceries, flashlights and window-reinforcements.

The government of the islands of Netherlands Antilles and Aruba issued a tropical storm warning for the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

A tropical storm warning was also in effect along Mexico's coast from Punta San Telmo to Cabo Corrientes, even though Tropical Storm Henriette was moving out to sea.

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