Hurricane Dora reaches Cat. 4 strength off Mexico

By the Associated Press | July 20, 2011 | 8:29 PM EDT

MIAMI (AP) — Forecasters say Hurricane Dora has rapidly strengthened into a Category 4 storm as it moves northwest off Mexico's Pacific coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Wednesday night that the storm's center was located about 235 miles (378 kilometers) southwest of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, and moving west-northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

Dora's maximum sustained winds have reached 135 mph (217 kph).

The fourth hurricane of the eastern Pacific season was forecast to stay offshore as it moves parallel to the shoreline for the next day or so. It could strengthen more in the next day before weakening begins on Friday.

Mexican authorities issued a tropical storm watch from Lazaro Cardenas to Cabo Corrientes, meaning tropical storm conditions were possible within 12 to 24 hours.