Hurricane Enrique aims for brush with Mexico’s Pacific coast

MEXICO CITY — The first hurricane of the eastern Pacific season headed for a possible close brush with Mexico’s southwestern shoulder Sunday night, and forecasters warned that heavy rains could cause dangerous flash floods or mudslides on shore.

Hurricane Enrique gained strength in the first hours after it formed Saturday, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm’s maximum sustained winds had then stabilized around 85 mph (140 kph) and were unlikely to gain much more power. Earlier forecasts had said Enrique might reach Category 2 strength.

The storm’s core was predicted to stay at sea but it could pass close to Cabo Corrientes — the bulge on the coast south of Puerto Vallarta — Sunday night and into Monday, the center said. Enrique was forecast to keep moving parallel to the coast over the next several days, before beginning to weaken after reaching cooler waters in a few days.

Enrique was centered late Saturday about 215 miles (345 kilometers) south of Cabo Corrientes and it was moving to the west-northwest at 5 mph (7 kph).

The Hurricane Center said Enrique could drop 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain, with isolated maximums of 18 inches (45 centimeters), in coastal areas of Mexico’s Colima, Michoacan and Jalisco states.

A tropical storm warning was in effect from Punta San Telmo to Punta Mita. A hurricane watch was posted for the coast from Cabo Corrientes to Manzanillo.

Mexico’s Defense Department said it was sending troops to aid civilians in advance of the storm.