Hurricane Lorena skirts east coast of Mexico’s Baja
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Lorena skirted along the east coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula late Friday, prompting new warnings and watches for coastal areas but apparently sparing a direct hit on the resort-studded twin cities of Los Cabos.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Lorena was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), and its center was about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east-southeast of the Baja California Sur state capital, La Paz. It was heading to the north-northwest at 8 mph (13kph) on a forecast track parallel to the coast through the Sea of Cortez.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the peninsula between Santa Rosalia and Puerto Cortes, and a hurricane watch was announced for northern parts of the peninsula and the Mexican mainland from Altata to Bahia.
For days, forecasts had predicted likely landfall in or a near miss with Los Cabos, but at the last minute the storm took a path well east of the glitzy resort area.
Earlier Friday, residents and tourists in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo hunkered down in homes, shelters and hotels amid warnings of damaging winds, flash floods and life-imperiling surf.
Police and soldiers went through low-lying, low-income neighborhoods in Los Cabos urging people to evacuate. Locals who have been through past hurricanes took no chances, pulling boats from the water and boarding up windows and doors.
Authorities in Los Cabos said 787 people had taken refuge at 18 storm shelters.
It kicked up strong waves in the twin resorts, but by early evening the clouds cleared partially and people ventured onto the beach to view the ocean.
The two cities remained under a hurricane warning late Friday, though the hurricane center’s latest projection had them outside the cone of uncertainty with Lorena’s center well to the north and heading away.
Civil defense official Carlos Godínez said an American tourist who went to the beach in Los Cabos with his son died after being swept out to sea. The son survived. But Godínez said the death occurred early Thursday, before beach access was restricted, and that it was “not necessarily attributable” to Lorena.
A second cyclone, Tropical Storm Mario, was several hundred miles south of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula but was not immediately forecast to pose a threat to land.
Authorities in Los Cabos had closed the port and suspended classes for Friday and prepared to use schools as shelters if necessary.
Lorena came onshore a day earlier as a hurricane in the western Mexican state of Colima, whipping palm trees with its strong winds and lashing the area with rain. It flooded streets, washed out roads and touched off minor slides in 10 municipalities. Dozens of trees were downed, and power was knocked out in some areas.
Colima state Gov. José Ignacio Peralta said more than 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) of crops such as bananas and papayas were damaged statewide, but there were no deaths or significant damage to infrastructure.
In the Atlantic, meanwhile, Hurricane Jerry was forecast to pass “well north” of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday, but heavy rainfall remained possible on the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the hurricane center reported.
In the coming days it could take a northward track in the direction of Bermuda, which was recently buffeted by Hurricane Humberto.
Jerry’s maximum sustained winds stood at 80 mph (130 kph) Friday night. It was centered about 160 miles (260 kilometers) north of Anguilla and was moving to the west-northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).
A tropical storm watch was in effect for St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.