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Ida expected to weaken as it moves toward gulf

CANCUN, Mexico — Officials readied shelters along Mexico's Caribbean coast Saturday and told fishermen and tour operators to pull in their boats amid warnings that Tropical Storm Ida could become a hurricane as it neared Cancun.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's winds strengthened to near 70 mph, just short of a Category 1 hurricane. Saturday night, Ida was centered about 150 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, and about 110 miles south of the western tip of Cuba. It was moving north-northwest at about 12 mph.

Ida's forecast track moved slightly toward the north on a path that would take it through the middle of the Yucatan Channel that separates Mexico and Cuba around midday today. Forecasters predicted Ida would then enter the Gulf of Mexico at tropical storm strength and possibly brush the U.S. Gulf Coast next week.

The storm likely will be weakened again by wind sheer and cooler waters.

"It's going to run into a front," said Diane Kacmarik, meteorologist with Bay News 9.

Computer models disagree on what will happen next, Kacmarik said. The storm could move quickly to the north and have little impact on the bay area, she said. Or, it might become an area of low pressure with some strong winds and rain.

Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report.

Ida expected to weaken as it moves toward gulf 11/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 7, 2009 11:25pm]

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