Hurricane Karl Menaces Mexico, Igor eyes Bermuda

A rare trio of hurricanes swirled simultaneously in the Atlantic basin Thursday, including Karl which menaced Mexico's Gulf coast, and Igor, a monster hurricane threatening a direct hit on Bermuda. Earlier Thursday, Karl, the 11th named storm of a season which forecasters have predicted could be one of the worst on record, drenched Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical storm and lashed the country's main offshore oil platforms. It then rapidly intensified to a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico and tracked toward the mainland coast, where it was forecast to make landfall late Thursday. Karl's sustained winds have surged to nearly 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour, with additional strengthening likely, and "Karl could approach major hurricane strength before the center reaches the Mexican coast" late Thursday, the US National Hurricane Center reported in a bulletin. Mexico, already reeling from major flooding that began in July and left 25 people dead and affected nearly one million more, posted hurricane watches for the country's central Gulf coast. Up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain in isolated regions, especially in mountainous areas, "could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides," the NHC said. Earlier the NHC warned Karl could bring coastal flooding to parts of Belize and northern Guatemala as well. As of early Thursday the storm had yet to wash out any of Mexico's bicentennial independence celebrations, with authorities reporting no event canceled so far. But tropical storm conditions were imminent along the Gulf coast, and Hurricane Karl -- a category one storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale -- was expected to "move near or over the coast of mainland Mexico late Thursday," the Miami-based center said. The Mexican government issued a hurricane watch for the coast from La Cruz southward to Barra de Nautla. In the Atlantic, "extremely dangerous" category-four Hurricane Igor was packing winds of 220 kilometers (140 miles) per hour, ge