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Paula Becomes Hurricane in Caribbean
A satellite image that shows the position of newly formed Tropical Storm Paula.
Credit: NWS/NOAA/NHC

Tropical Storm Paula strengthened into Hurricane Paula today (Oct. 12), becoming the ninth hurricane this year.

Paula has maximum wind speeds of 75 mph (120 kph) -- a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength -- and poses a threat to the eastern Yucatan peninsula and western Cuba.

The government of Mexico has a hurricane warning in place for the coast from Punta Gruesa to Cancun. High winds, heavy rains and storm surge are all threats to the area from Paula.

Paula is the 16th named storm of the 2010 hurricane season. Named storms include tropical storms and hurricanes.

The 2010 hurricane season was predicted to be a busier-than-average one, with 17 named storms, 10 of which were expected to become hurricanes. An average hurricane season, in comparison, has 11 tropical storms with six of them becoming hurricanes.

Hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30 each year. The busiest part of the season is typically late August through early October, when ocean waters are at their warmest, providing the fuel that drives these ferocious spinning storms.