Hurricane Bud lost a little of its sting early Friday, but remained a potent Category 2 storm as it headed toward a string of laid-back beach resorts and small mountain villages on Mexico's Pacific coast south of Puerto Vallarta.
Authorities canceled school in 11 communities expected to be hit by heavy rains in Jalisco state, and emergency workers were preparing emergency shelters, many of which would be located in empty school classrooms.
Heavy rains and 6-foot (2-meter) high waves had already started pelting Melaque, a beach town on the Bahia de Navidad, about an hour's drive east of the sparsely populated stretch of coast where the hurricane's center is expected to come ashore.
Rafael Galvez, the manager of the Hotel Bahia in Melaque, said his staff was preparing to board up windows in preparation for Bud's arrival.
"For me, really, this is my fourth hurricane, I went through Wilma in Cancun," which hit as a Category 4, Galvez said. "This is a little less severe."
Category 2 Hurricane Jova hit the area in October, killing six people and flooding parts of Melaque and neighboring Barra de Navidad.
"There was a lot of flooding in the whole area, and we lost electricity," Galvez recalled. But this week, he said, only seven of his hotel's 26 rooms were occupied, and none of the hotel's guests were planning to leave.
A hurricane warning was up for Mexico's Pacific coast from Manzanillo, east of Melaque, northwestward to Cabo Corrientes. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning were in effect from Punta San Telmo westward to east of Manzanillo.
Bud had been a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) late Thursday, but it was down to near 110 mph (175 kph) early Friday. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Bud was expected to weaken further before hitting the coast late in the day, still at hurricane force.
The storm was centered about 105 miles (170 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo and moving north-northeast near 8 mph (13 kph).
The Hurricane Center said the storm would likely move a little inland, then make a U-turn and head back out into the Pacific. That development would leave a small section of coast under hurricane and tropical-storm conditions for three days, raising the chance of heavy flooding.
The government of Jalisco state prepared hundreds of cots and dozens of heavy vehicles such as bulldozers that could be needed to move debris.
Officials in Puerto Vallarta said they were in close contact with managers of the hundreds of hotels in the city in case tourists need to move to eight emergency shelters. It said the sea along the city's famous beachfront was calm, but swimming had been temporarily banned as a precaution.
Jalisco state's civil defense office said two shelters had been opened in Cihuatlan, a town just inland from Melaque that was hard hit by flooding from Jova.
The office also said authorities had decided to open a trench to help drain a coastal lagoon near Melaque that was already full and could overflow.
The region is experienced at handling hurricanes, Galvez noted. "The government planning has helped a lot," he noted.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.