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Oct 18, 2009 7:49 AM by Associated Press

Rick strengthens further

Forecasters say Hurricane Rick is the strongest hurricane in the eastern north Pacific Ocean in more than a decade. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Rick turned into an "extremely dangerous" Category 5 storm on Saturday with sustained winds reaching 180 mph (285 kph).

At 11 p.m. EDT Saturday (0300 GMT Sunday), the storm's center was located about 295 miles (475 kilometers) south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico.

Forecasters say Rick should stay offshore for several days. Then the storm is forecast to curve east over cooler waters and approach the Baja California Peninsula, perhaps as a Category 2 hurricane, at midweek.

Hurricane Linda in September 1997 was the strongest eastern north Pacific storm with maximum 185 mph (296 kph) winds.

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