Saturday 16 December 2017

Mexican coast residents prepare for direct hit as Hurricane Newton approaches

Boats wait to be taken out of the water as they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Newton in Cabo San Lucas (AP)
Boats wait to be taken out of the water as they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Newton in Cabo San Lucas (AP)

Ignacio Martinez

Hurricane Newton has soaked Mexico's western Pacific coast with heavy rain and is heading towards Baja California's twin resorts of Los Cabos, where residents are preparing for a possible direct hit two years after another major storm.

Newton's maximum sustained winds have increased to 90mph, according to the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami.

The Category 1 storm is south-south-east of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo and is moving north-west at 16mph.

Residents were nailing plywood over windows and pulling in fishing boats as officials opened 18 shelters at schools in the two resorts and 38 more in other parts of Baja California Sur state, while warning people against panic buying.

"There is no need for mass buying," Los Cabos mayor Arturo de la Rosa Escalante said. "There is enough food and fuel for the next 20 days."

Los Cabos police are stationed at shopping malls to guard against the kind of looting that occurred after Hurricane Odile struck the area in 2014 as a Category 3 storm, with 125mph winds.

Foreign tourists were still walking the streets of Cabo San Lucas even as workers began boarding over windows of businesses, and boat owners took their small fishing boats out of the water.

Earlier on Monday, as a tropical storm, Newton dumped torrential rains that prompted 100 people to evacuate their homes and damaged residences in Uruapan in the Pacific coast state of Michoacan, the city government reported.

Some roads were blocked by flooding and mudslides in the neighbouring state of Guerrero, where some people were evacuated by helicopter. No deaths were reported in either state.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Cabo San Lucas and the nearby coastline. Coastal portions of five Mexican states could see 5in to 10 in of rain, with isolated maximums of 15in, the hurricane centre said.

Newton is expected to move up the peninsula and enter the Gulf of California by Tuesday night. The hurricane centre said the storm is likely to continue north and cross into southern Arizona as a tropical depression on Wednesday night.

Press Association

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