Hurricane Norma approaches Los Cabos, Mexico as Tommy threatens Atlantic islands
Cabo San Lucas – CABO SAN LUCAS, Residents of the Mexican tourist enclave of Los Cabos were preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Norma, which is approaching the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula and is expected to make landfall on Saturday, the Atlantic, as Hurricane Tommy. threatened the islands of the Lesser Antilles.
Businesses in Cabo San Lucas put sheets of plywood over their windows and government workers hung banners warning people not to try to cross ravines or stream beds since Friday as Norma began pounding the area.
By noon Saturday, Norma had weakened back to a Category 1 hurricane, 40 kilometers (25 mi) west of Cabo San Lucas with sustained winds of 140 km/h (85 mph) and gusts of 13 km/h (8 mph). According to the US National Hurricane Center.
Norma was expected to continue on that track into the evening before turning northeast and weakening on Monday to hit the west coast of Mexico as a tropical storm.
The slow passage of the cyclone increased the potential for severe flooding. Norma was expected to drop 15 to 30 centimeters of rain, with up to 45 centimeters in parts of southern Baja California and much of Sinaloa state, a largely agricultural state hit by a major drought. At least it will increase the water availability of the state.
Hector Ambarano of Baja California Sur’s civil defense said Saturday morning that the state already had about 1,500 people in shelters.
Los Cabos Civil Defense urged residents to stay indoors throughout the day as the wind and rain increased, while emergency services workers evacuated people from low-lying areas of the city and moved them to shelters.
San Jose del Cabo police rescued two people from their truck when a current swept them away early Saturday morning, and popular areas were cut off from each other and turned into small islands surrounded by waterways. Power and internet were disrupted in some areas on Saturday morning.
By early morning, the area’s streets were strewn with palm trees and other debris and were almost deserted except for occasional military patrols. Traffic signs, trees and power lines were toppled due to strong winds. The US National Hurricane Center has indicated that hurricane conditions have already occurred south of the peninsula.
Hotels in Los Cabos, which is mainly visited by foreign tourists, were still about three-quarters full, and visitors decided not to leave, said Maribel Collins, secretary of tourism for Surin, Baja California.
With rain already falling in Los Cabos, some inbound and outbound flights were canceled on Friday and airports were closed on Saturday, the local civil defense office said.
The local hotel association estimates that Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo have around 40,000 tourists.
On Friday, a couple from San Diego walked the deserted streets of Cabo San Lucas, ready to stay in the area after a sport fishing tournament they were scheduled to participate in was postponed until next week.
The ports were closed. At the marina, locals tried to protect their boats, like Jose Cesena, who was taking water from a boat that usually carries tourists.
Homero Blanco, the state commander of the National Guard, said beaches had been ordered closed and patrol troops had been sent to evacuate people from the beaches, where there was no shortage of curious people.
The central government has sent 500 soldiers to the tourist area to help prepare for Norma’s arrival, and municipal officials said up to 39 emergency shelters could be opened if needed.
A hurricane warning was issued for the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, and Norma was expected to reach the western Mexican Pacific coast as a tropical storm.
In the Atlantic, Hurricane Tommy had sustained winds of 140 km/h (85 mph), and hurricane watches were issued for the islands of Guadeloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Snows, the US National Hurricane Center said. Tammy was moving northwest at 8 mph (13 km/h).
Tommy is located about 40 kilometers (25 mi) north-northeast of Guadeloupe and 80 km (50 m) southeast of the Caribbean island of Antigua.
Tommy was expected to maintain its hurricane strength and strengthen slightly as it moved toward the Lesser Antilles during Saturday through Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda. Both Martinique and Guadeloupe are French overseas departments.
The hurricane center has forecast heavy rain and flooding across much of the Lesser Antilles.
Residents of Antigua and Barbuda – a twin-island nation – were preparing for Tommy’s arrival two weeks after Tropical Storm Phillip hit, which dumped 15 to 20 centimeters of rain and plunged both islands into darkness. The new storm was now expected to leave more than 30 centimeters of rain in a country devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and still reeling from damage from Phillip.
Government offices, banks and most large businesses were closed early on Friday so that workers were ready. Traffic was snarled near St. John’s and popular shopping centers and supermarkets as residents rushed to stock up on essentials. Local disaster management officials plan to open about 40 shelters in communities across the country.
AP writer Annika Kentish contributed to this story from St. John’s, Antigua.
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