Hurricane Celia spins further away from Mexico

MEXICO CITY Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:31pm EDT

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Celia, the first hurricane of the 2010 Pacific season, strengthened on Monday, but continued on a westward path away from Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

A Category 1 hurricane in the eastern Pacific Ocean with sustained winds up to 90 mph, Celia was about 515 miles south of the port city of Manzanillo and moving westward, away from land, at 9 mph.

Some strengthening was expected in the next 48 hours as Celia was forecast to keep to a path that would not pose a threat to land, said the center, and there are no oil installations on its likely course.

Celia is the third named storm of the eastern Pacific hurricane season and the center forecast that a broad area of low pressure a few hundred miles south of Guatemala and El Salvador had a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within 48 hours.

In May, Tropical Storm Agatha slammed into the Guatemalan coast and caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 180 people.

A storm system north of Venezuela is moving westward, deeper into the Caribbean and could deliver heavy rain to Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the storm center said.

The U.S. government's weather agency has predicted the 2010 Atlantic storm season could be the most intense since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,000 people and disrupted oil production at Gulf of Mexico energy facilities.

(Reporting by Sean Mattson; editing by Chris Wilson)

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