updated 8/30/2006 12:12:02 AM ET 2006-08-30T04:12:02

Hurricane John’s outer bands lashed western Mexico Tuesday night as the powerful Category 3 storm threatened to flood coastal areas and ruin vacations at some Pacific resorts.

John became the sixth Pacific hurricane of the season earlier in the day and quickly grew in strength with maximum sustained winds reaching 115 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it would likely grow even stronger.

However, it was not expected to make a direct hit on land or affect the United States. Long-term predictions had it moving to the northwest, parallel to the coastline, with its outer winds lashing the resorts of Acapulco, Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. John could cause landslides and flooding before heading out to sea, the hurricane center said.

The government issued hurricane warnings from the port city of Lazaro Cardenas westward to La Fortuna, an area close to the resort of Manzanillo. A hurricane watch stretched further south, from Tepan de Galeana, northwest of Acapulco, to Lazaro Cardenas and from La Fortuna to Cabo Corrientes, close to Puerto Vallarta.

Dozens of small, coastal communities were on alert as forecasters warned the hurricane could dump up to 8 inches of rain.

Saul Martinez, night manager at Acapulco’s Los Flamingos Hotel, said there weren’t many guests around because it was the low season, but that the storm wasn’t scaring away those who had come to the beach.

“The people are going out, like any other day,” he said.

Skies over the resort were cloudy, but it had yet to begin raining late Tuesday night.

Authorities warned residents of low-lying areas to be on alert and urged deep-sea fishing expeditions to return to shore. But the airport was still open, and there were few signs of preparation for the hurricane.

By late Tuesday night, the hurricane was centered about 120 miles south of Acapulco and was moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph.

The hurricane center said hurricane force winds extended outward as far as 30 miles, with tropical-storm-force winds out 125 miles.

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