MEXICO CITY, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Tropical storm Lorena threatened to strike Mexico's Pacific coast with heavy rain and high winds on Wednesday morning, as it gathered strength and barreled towards popular beach resorts on the Baja California peninsula.
Lorena is expected to become a hurricane later on Wednesday as it veers towards the coast near the seaside getaway of Zihuatanejo on a northwestern trajectory, according to projections by the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
By mid-morning, Lorena was blowing maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) around 120 miles (195 km) south-southeast of the Pacific port of Manzanillo, the NHC said.
Mexico's government has issued a hurricane warning from Punta San Telmo to Cabo Corrientes and a tropical storm warning from Cabo Corrientes to Punta Mita, the NHC said.
Lorena is expected to hit the coast as a hurricane close to Manzanillo, south of Puerto Vallarta, before weakening and turning northwest, the Miami-based center's forecasts show.
It is then likely to regain strength and pass just to the south of Los Cabos in Baja California as a hurricane early on Saturday before churning along the peninsula's western reaches.
Lorena is expected to cause torrential rains in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan and intense downpours in Colima, Mexico's National Meteorological Service said.
(Reporting by Noe Torres, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon Editing by Dave Graham and Chris Reese)
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