Hurricane Raymond looms over Mexico's sodden Pacific coast

A member of the Mexican army carries the luggage of a family being evacuated from their home in Costa Grande, Guerrero state, on Monday. Francisca Meza / EPA

ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Ports were closed, school classes were suspended and hundreds of people were evacuated along Mexico's southern Pacific coast on Monday as a major hurricane loomed over a region still recovering from record flooding a few weeks ago. 

Raymond, a category three hurricane, weakened slightly on Monday night as it hovered about 90 miles offshore.

The major storm was moving in "a slow and erratic motion" with winds blowing up to 120 mph on Monday, Miami's National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. 

"It's not going to move much in the next 24 to 36 hours," Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico's national emergency services, said at a news conference in Acapulco. 

The NHC's forecast said the storm could move closer to the coast Monday night and Tuesday before turning west on Wednesday. 

The hurricane was already dumping steady rain on coastal areas including Acapulco, where storms wrecked homes, roads and cars and stranded tourists last month. 

By early afternoon, parts of the city were covered with water, its port was closed and many roads were washed out. Acapulco's beaches were almost deserted on Monday afternoon as winds picked up. 

"This is really bad luck after (tropical storm) Manuel," said Anaberta Lopez, 26, who braids tourists' hair on the city's beaches, surveying a vacant stretch of sand. "There's no work now and people here live off tourism." 

Police help people get off a truck on their way to a makeshift shelter in the city of Chilpancingo on Monday. Alejandrino Gonzalez / AP

Mexico has no major oil installations in the area threatened by Raymond, which has swirled around 145 miles west-southwest of Acapulco since Sunday night. 

Mexico's Gulf Coast is also facing heavy rains due to the advance of a cold front from the north, which has halted Raymond's progress in the south, the government said. 

"If (Raymond) carries on moving at this speed and the cold front keeps holding it, we'll have permanent rain for the next 72 hours," Puente said at a conference earlier on Monday. 

A hurricane watch is in place from Acapulco to Tecpan de Galeana about 66 miles to the north. More than 800 people have been evacuated from the northwestern fringe of Guerrero down to Acapulco, emergency services said. 

Anticipating heavy rains, schools closed in Acapulco, in Lazaro Cardenas and other parts of the southwestern coast. The port in Lazaro Cardenas was also closed, the government said. 

Rainfall during the next few days could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, the NHC said. 

Angel Aguirre, the governor of Guerrero, urged people to leave areas at high risk of flooding, and Michoacan's government said all maritime activity and road travel should be avoided. 

Mexico suffered its worst floods on record in mid-September when tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid converged from the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, killing more than 150 people and causing damage estimated at around $6 billion. 

Some 5,700 people are still living in shelters in Acapulco due to the impact of those storms, the Guerrero government said. 

Acapulco, whose economy relies heavily on tourism, saw hotel occupancy rates plunge to record lows after the storms, which also knocked out the city's airport for a time. As of Monday afternoon, Acapulco's airport was still open. 

The flooding, mudslides and displacement of thousands of people caused by the recent storms have heightened the risk of waterborne illness in Mexico. The country has recorded its first local transmission of cholera in just over a decade.