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Isidore makes landfall

Storm could threaten U.S., forecasters say

Trees bend in Puerto Progress, Mexico, as Hurricane Isidore approaches Sunday.
Trees bend in Puerto Progress, Mexico, as Hurricane Isidore approaches Sunday.

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Hurricane Isidore

At 11 p.m. EDT Sunday

: 20.8 degrees north
Longitude: 89.5 degrees west

Position: 15 miles southeast of Merida, Mexico.

Next advisory:  5 a.m. EDT Monday

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Hurricane Isidore weakened slightly Sunday as it moved inland across the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, but the storm pounded the region with heavy rains and high winds.

About 50,000 people were evacuated from their homes as the storm moved toward land and thousands more lost power and water. Local radio stations reported that four people had been killed in road accidents, according to Reuters.

At 11 p.m. ET Sunday -- now a Category 2 storm -- Isidore had sustained maximum winds of 105 mph. The weakening storm was moving to the southwest at about 5 mph. At that time, its eye was about 15 miles southeast of Merida, Mexico.

Earlier Sunday evening, Isidore had been a Category 3 storm -- with winds reaching 120 mph -- as it moved over land.

Isidore, the second hurricane of the Atlantic season, was likely to dump 10 to 20 inches in the Yucatan, forecasters said.

The NCH said that winds of 78 mph have been reported in Merida. Witnesses told Reuters that the windows have been shattered, trees uprooted and roofs ripped off. Several downtown roads were reportedly ankle-deep in water.

The Emergency Administration Director of Mexico's Civil Protection Department, Carlos Gelista Gonzalez, said people from both his division and the Mexican army have headed to the northern part of the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan to help restore water and electricity service.

Isidore is expected to make a turn to the west-southwest over the next 24 hours, forecasters said, and could briefly make landfall on the Yucatan's northwestern tip before heading back out to sea.

Meteorologists said it was not too early for people in the Gulf coastal areas -- particularly in Texas and Louisiana -- to start making preparations for Isidore.

"We're looking at a major hurricane in the east-central Gulf later this week," NHC meteorologist Richard Knabb said.

Although, as one NHC meteorologist put it, "Three days are a long time in the weather world."

Meteorologists were forecasting that Isidore would strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane by midday Wednesday.

Category 4 storms, with winds of 131-155 mph, typically cause extensive damage, massive flooding and large numbers of potential evacuations.

The eye of Hurricane Isidore is over the Yucatan Peninsula in this image taken at 11:15 p.m. EDT Sunday.
The eye of Hurricane Isidore is over the Yucatan Peninsula in this image taken at 11:15 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Hurricane warnings were in effect from Tulum, on the Yucatan's eastern Caribbean coast, to Campeche on the western Gulf coast -- including the popular vacation island of Cozumel. Almost 50,000 people have been evacuated from the area, including the entire 44,000 or so population of the city of Progreso. Many houses there were knee-deep in water, Reuters reported.

Cancun, another famous Yucatan vacation destination, was spared the brunt of the storm, but officials were still bracing for heavy rain.

"The hurricane did not hit Cancun directly," said Roberto Cintron, vice president of the Quintana Roo Hotel Association, which includes Cancun. "No one reported anything but chairs in the pool. We were very lucky. Thank God."

Blake also cautioned that Isidore could take a turn to the north -- and threaten U.S. shores -- this week.

"Beyond three days, there are some suggestions that it could make a turn and head north. But three days are a long time in the weather world," Blake said.

Cuba was cleaning up and drying out from the pounding it took from Isidore last week. The storm dumped more than 2 feet of rain on Cuba and slammed the island nation's western coast with a storm surge of 8 to 12 feet.

All hurricane warnings for Cuba had been discontinued Sunday.

Kyle becomes tropical storm

Meanwhile, Kyle, which had been a subtropical storm in the east of Bermuda, was reclassified as a true tropical storm Sunday.

At 11 p.m. EDT Sunday, the storm was about 890 miles east of Bermuda and nearly stationary. Forecasters expected little movement over the next 24 hours. Kyle's top winds were about 40 mph.

A subtropical storm is one that begins in mid-latitude, fueled by a combination of warm and cool air systems interacting with the Gulf Stream and by the heat of the water over which the storm travels.

Once such a storm crosses into the tropics, it generally loses its subtropical characteristics and become a full-fledged tropical storm.

The National Hurricane Center has extended its naming conventions to subtropical storms for the first time this year.

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