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Major Evacuation Underway In Mexico To Escape Hurricane - 2002-09-22


Hurricane Isidore has come ashore on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where authorities mounted a major evacuation effort in advance of the storm. Isidore is moving to the west-southwest with winds exceeding 200 kilometers an hour.

Mexican officials say they are bracing for what could be the worst-ever recorded damage inflicted by a hurricane in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Isidore, which had hugged the northern coastline of the Yucatan since Saturday, jogged southward late Sunday, bringing its center ashore. The hurricane has flooded streets, uprooted trees and downed power lines in coastal communities, where tens of thousands of people were evacuated and authorities scrambled to set up emergency shelters. Thousands of workers have been moved from offshore Mexican oil rigs. As much as 50 centimeters of rain have fallen in some regions, with even more precipitation forecast over the next 48 hours.

A strong Category 3 hurricane on a 1-5 scale, Isadore's hurricane-force winds extend some 80 kilometers from the storm's center.

Friday, Isidore passed over Cuba's westernmost tip, damaging hundreds of homes and ravishing the country's tobacco and citrus crops.

Weather forecasters say Isidore could strengthen to a potentially-catastrophic Category-four hurricane if, as expected, it re-emerges into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The storm could eventually veer northward, putting U.S. states from Texas to Florida at risk.

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