PUERTO ESCONDIDO - Hurricane Agatha barreled toward southern Mexico's Pacific coast on Monday morning, threatening to dump torrential rains on beach resorts in the state of Oaxaca when it plows into the coast later in the day.

A Category 2 storm and the first hurricane to form in the eastern Pacific this year, Agatha was blowing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (177 kph) at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Authorities have set up 200 shelters along the coastal region of Oaxaca with capacity to shelter 26,000 people, according to local civil protection officials.

Agatha is expected to dump 10 to 16 inches (25-41 cm) of rain on Oaxaca, and up to 20 inches in some areas, which could spark lethal flash flooding and mudslides, the NHC said.

Heavy rains are also expected to douse the state of Chiapas, as well as Veracruz, Tabasco and eastern parts of Guerrero.

Agatha is unlikely to change in strength much before reaching land, and should then weaken rapidly as it dissipates over southeastern Mexico by late Tuesday, the NHC said.

(Reporting by Jose Cortes, Editing by Alistair Bell)