Hurricane Aletta picks up steam, poses no risk to mainland

Storm damage in Belfast after Hurricane Ophelia battered the UK and Ireland with gusts of up to 80mph

The storm, which is no threat to any land area, is packing maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour. It predicts the storm's intensity to peak late Friday, with maximum winds of 145 miles per hour, just about 10 miles per hour shy of Category 5 levels.

Aletta is the first hurricane of the 2018 season in the eastern Pacific. Its winds increased 65 mph in just 18 hours, between 5 p.m. Thursday, when it was first named a hurricane, and 11 a.m. Friday, when its rating shot up to Category 4.

Forecasters said Aletta is now a Category 3 hurricane.

The storm, located off the west coast of Mexico about 730 km west-southwest of Manzanillo at the time it became a hurricane, is expected to strengthen slightly through Saturday before it encounters cooler water and less-favourable atmospheric conditions.

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Forecasters are also keeping an eye on another area of low pressure to the east of Aletta. The National Hurricane Center is giving the tropical wave a good chance to develop into a tropical depression this weekend south of the Mexican Riveria. If the disturbance earns a name, it will be called Bud.

For now, it is too soon for experts to know whether this second storm would pose any direct threat to the Mexican Pacific next week.

The centre said Friday morning that swells generated by Aletta will begin to affect portions of mainland Mexico and the west coast of Baja California Sur later in the day.

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