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Fox News Weather Center

Karl Category 3 Storm in Gulf of Mexico

As hurricanes Julie and Igor roar through the Atlantic, Karl strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane Friday in the Gulf of Mexico as it neared near a port and an oil hub.

The Mexican government has issued a hurricane warning for a 186-mile stretch of coast in Veracruz state, stretching northward from the city of the same name. On its predicted path, Karl could make landfall between the port of Veracruz and Poza Rica.

Karl's maximum sustained winds were near 120 mph early Friday with some additional strengthening possible before the storm reaches Mexico's coast.

By Thursday evening, Karl was centered 115 miles east-northeast of Veracruz. It slowed slightly on its westward path, moving at 9 mph.

Julia was downgraded to a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph on Thursday. The storm is expected to curve out to sea and not reach land.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Igor's top winds also weakened to 125 mph and the storm is threatening to generate life-threatening rip currents along the U.S. East Coast over the weekend. It is on track to take over Bermuda by Monday. The government of Bermuda issued a hurricane watch.

Karl could cause storm surges of 6 to 9 feet and "large and destructive waves," as well as dump up to 15 inches of rain in some areas of Veracruz state, the U.S. Hurricane Center said in a statement.

Poza Rica, while slightly inland, houses important pipelines and natural gas- and oil-processing plants operated by the state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos. Pemex said it had no immediate plans to halt production at the plants because of the storm.

About 80,000 people have had their homes damaged and nine people have been killed in flooding from heavy rains in southern Veracruz since Aug. 19. Officials expressed concern Karl could raise river levels again, just as some residents are thinking of returning to their homes.

As a tropical storm, Karl hit Yucatan on Wednesday, downing tree limbs and causing power outages. The storm made landfall on the Mexican Caribbean coast about midway between the cruise ship port of Majahual and the coastal town of Xcalak.

Violeta Pineda, who has operated the Hotel Kabah Na's thatched-roof bungalows for 13 years, said waves were rolling about 25 yards (meters) onto the beach and eating away at a stretch of road that runs along the coast.

Electricity went out briefly around Majahual, which in 2007 took a near-direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Dean, the third-most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to hit land.

"This is nothing in comparison," Pineda said.

Click here to track the storms at MyFoxHurricane.com. 

The Associated Press contributed to this Report.