- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — A strong Tropical Storm Karl made landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday, hitting a sparsely populated stretch of Caribbean coast, while two Category 4 hurricanes roared further out in the Atlantic.

Karl made landfall about 30 miles east-northeast of the Quitana Roo state capital of Chetumal, with winds of about 65 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm hit far south of Tulum, a beach town of eco-resorts and cliffside Mayan ruins, but close to the smaller tourist and fishing town of Xcalak.

It was expected to quickly weaken into a tropical depression as it slogs across the flat peninsula before heading back out over the Gulf of Mexico, where it could turn into a hurricane by the end of the week and threaten the central Mexican coast.

Authorities on the Yucatan warned of heavy rains but said they saw no need yet for evacuations. The storm threw doubt over the area’s celebration of Mexico’s bicentennial anniversary of independence from Spain, although there was no immediate decision to cancel festivities.

Felipe Reyes, a receptionist at Las Ranitas hotel in Tulum, said guests were warned to prepare for heavy rains and winds overnight, but none had chosen to leave.

“For now everything is calm. The weather is pretty nice,” Mr. Reyes said.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Hurricane Julia rapidly intensified into a powerful Category 4 storm early Wednesday, and still far from land, Hurricane Igor’s top winds weakened slightly. Neither posed any immediate threat to land, though forecasters said Igor could hit Bermuda on Sunday.

Julia had maximum sustained winds of near 135 mph. Also far from land over the Atlantic, Hurricane Igor’s top winds weakened slightly to 145 mph.

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