Hurricane wind scale (AFP)

Mexico City (AFP) – Hurricane Rosa strengthened Thursday to a Category 4 storm off northern Mexico’s Pacific coast, though it was expected to weaken again before making landfall, the US National Hurricane Center said.

“Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts,” it said in its 0300 GMT bulletin.

Forecasters expect the strength could start weakening slowly Saturday into next week. 

Rosa is currently located 975 kilometers off the southern part of the Baja California peninsula, and moving west at 15 kilometers per hour, the NHC said.

It will weaken to a tropical storm again before making landfall, according to Mexico’s National Meteorological Service.

Mexico’s Pacific coast has already been hit hard by heavy rain and floods in recent days.

At least 11 people died in flash floods in the Pacific coast states of Michoacan and Sinaloa. Another nine are missing.

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