World

Weakened Tropical Storm Paul stays at sea, brushing northward along Mexico's Baja peninsula

Tropical Storm Paul spun northward off the southern half of Mexico's Baja peninsula early Wednesday, after veering away from a landfall on a sparsely populated stretch of coast.

Forecasters said the storm could cross the small Vizcaino Desert peninsula that hooks into the Pacific sometime Wednesday afternoon, then turn northwestward and head back out to sea.

Paul started Tuesday as a hurricane but it rapidly lost strength as it headed toward Baja, preceded by rains that caused some minor flooding at the peninsula's southern tip.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Paul's maximum sustained winds had decreased to 45 mph (72 kph) early Wednesday. It was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the western coast from Santa Fe north to El Pocito and in the east from San Evaristo to Bahia San Juan Bautista.

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Rafael buffeted Bermuda with wind and rain while it stayed out to sea to the east of the British territory. The hurricane's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 80 mph (130 kph) with some additional weakening forecast. Rafael was centered about 310 miles (500 kilometers) northeast of Bermuda and was moving north-northeast near 33 mph (54 kph).