Raymond weakens to tropical storm near Mexico

A greatly weakened Hurricane Raymond stayed parked at sea early Wednesday as its rains caused some flooding on Mexico's Pacific coast and led authorities to evacuate a village threatened by mudslides from two soaked hills.

In the inland mountains, officials moved hundreds of residents out of El Paraiso by Tuesday night and planned to completely empty the village of 7,000 people because of fears of landslides, said Guerrero state's deputy secretary of civil protection, Constantino Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said two hills still soaked from a storm last month loom over the village and authorities feared they could give way.

Raymond's center was 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of the beach resort of Zihuatanejo early Wednesday, more or less where the storm had sat for a day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. After spending much of Monday as a powerful Category 3 storm, Raymond was barely a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

Forecasters said it should weaken to a tropical storm by Wednesday and begin moving slowly westward farther out to sea.

While the coast was spared damaging torrential rains like those inflicted by Tropical Storm Manuel last month, authorities in Guerrero state took no chances following widespread criticism of their preparations for the earlier storm. They moved hundreds of people from isolated mountain communities and low-lying shore areas, and more than 1,500 soldiers were sent into the area. Schools in coastal communities were kept closed.

Forecasters warned that Raymond's rains still had the potential to cause dangerous floods and mudslides in the region, which is reeling from more than $1.7 billion in damage and about 120 deaths caused by Manuel. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Acapulco to Lazaro Cardenas.

Government workers reinforced some roads with sand bags, but rains left streets in low-lying parts of Acapulco and other areas under water.

Some flooding also swirled into homes wrecked by Manuel. About 10,000 people in Guerrero are still homeless a month after Manuel inundated whole neighborhoods and caused devastating landslides, including one that buried much of one village.

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lorenzo strengthened far out to sea but posed no threat to land. Lorenzo's maximum sustained winds early Wednesday were over 50 mph (80 kph) with little change in strength forecast. The storm was centered about 895 miles (1,440 kilometers) east of Bermuda and was moving east near 9 mph (15 kph).