MEXICO GIRDS FOR GERT AS HURRICANE NEARS COAST

MEXICO GIRDS FOR GERT AS HURRICANE NEARS COAST

Hurricane Gert, with sustained winds of 75 mph, was likely to bear down on the Mexican coast late Monday, forecasters said.

Gert was upgraded from tropical storm to hurricane Monday by forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Fla.Early Monday, it was 180 miles east-southeast of Tampico, a Mexican port on the Gulf of Mexico.

The hurricane is moving in a west-northwest direction at 10 mph. Forecasters expected it to gain strength as it neared the coast.

The storm, which was a tropical storm last week and weakened to a tropical depression, gained force again over the weekend.

It is expected to dump 5 to 10 inches of rain on the coast, enough to cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Near the eye, the storm surge may be 3 to 5 feet, forecasters say.

It is the sixth named storm and the second hurricane, after Emily, of this year's Atlantic hurricane season.

Sunday night eastern Veracruz state posted a maximum alert and officials in the state of Nuevo Leon prepared to evacuate people from low-lying river areas.

The southeastern ports of Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen remained closed, the Mexican state news agency Notimex reported.

The storm killed 28 people and left thousands homeless when it crossed over Honduras and Nicaraga last week.