Hurricane Richard sputters over Belize, heads toward Mexico
Hurricane Richard did no major damage to Belize as it weakened into a tropical storm. It is moving into southeastern Mexico.
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The storm was expected to further weaken to a tropical depression before it enters Mexico's Bay of Campeche on Monday night or early Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The bay produces more than two-thirds of Mexico's 2.6 million barrels-per-day of crude output.
The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, was centered about 170 miles southeast of Campeche, Mexico, at 4 a.m. CDT. It was moving west-northwest at 12 mph.
Mexico's state oil company, Pemex, said it was watching the storm but had not evacuated any workers from its offshore platforms. Vessels continued to service the platforms late into Sunday night, Pemex said.
"We're still operating normally and monitoring (the storm)," a Pemex spokesman said.
In September, Hurricane Karl forced a brief shutdown of 14 minor Mexican wells in the Gulf, with no significant impact on production.
Most computer forecasting models suggest the storm would steer clear of major oil installations in the U.S. Gulf.
Richard is expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain across northern Guatemala and the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Campeche, the hurricane center said.
Richard made landfall on Sunday just south of Belize City, blowing roofs off houses and knocking out electricity as tourists and residents huddled in emergency shelters.
The government of Belize, an impoverished country of about 330,000 people, reported no injuries or deaths from the storm, which came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest rank on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.
It forced families to flee their houses and move into shelters along the coast, said Noreen Fairweather, coordinator of the country's emergency services organization.
NO MAJOR DAMAGE
She said no major damage had been reported beyond broken windows and roofs blown off a few poorly constructed homes.