Tropical Storm Estelle strengthens off southern Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Newly formed Tropical Storm Estelle rapidly gained force off of Mexico’s Pacific coast on Saturday and forecasters said it was likely to become a major hurricane, though without threatening land.

The system developed into a tropical depression early on Friday and it strengthened into a named storm during the night. By late Saturday morning, Estelle had top sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It was centered about 350 miles (560 kilometers) south of Manzanillo, Mexico, and was heading to the west-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph). Tropical storm-force winds expended outward as far as 60 miles (95 kilometers).

Forecasters said it was expected to remain well offshore as it grows stronger — likely reaching major hurricane force by Monday.

The Hurricane Center said the storm already was stirring up high surf along the coast of southwestern Mexico.

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