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Hurricane Lorena nears Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos

A satellite image shows Hurricane Lorena and Tropical Storm Mario
A satellite image shows Hurricane Lorena, top center, near the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, followed by Tropical Storm Mario.
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Hurricane Lorena neared Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos area Friday as owners pulled their boats from the water, tourists hunkered down in hotels, and police and soldiers went through low-lying, low-income neighborhoods urging people to evacuate.

Lorena was forecast to pass over or near the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula on Friday afternoon with heavy winds and soaking rains, and locals who have been through past hurricanes were taking no chances.

“If we don’t get the yacht out, the waves can damage it,” said Juan Hernandez, who rents his craft to foreign visitors. It’s “a preventative measure for when a cyclone threatens.”

Authorities in Los Cabos said 787 people have taken refuge at 18 storm shelters. Local security forces urged local residents in low-lying areas to evacuate even as some tourists continued to stroll along the streets under cloudy skies. Others returned to their hotels.

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The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami upgraded Lorena to a Category 1 hurricane early Friday. By the afternoon it had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was about 35 miles away, moving toward Cabo San Lucas at 6 mph. Forecasters predicted damaging winds, flash flooding and life-threatening surf along the peninsula.

“We arrived on Monday and we hope to leave Sunday. ... We hope there aren’t big problems,” said Minerva Smith of California.

A second tropical storm, Mario, was about 345 miles south of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula on Friday afternoon and had sustained winds of 65 mph. But it wasn’t expected to hit land.

Emergency crews continued to pull motorists and others from high water Friday after the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda soaked the Houston area.

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Authorities suspended classes for Friday and prepared to use schools as shelters if necessary. The port of Cabo San Lucas was closed to navigation.

“We are taking preventive measures,” said Baja California Sur state government secretary-general Álvaro de la Peña. “Rations, gasoline, all supplies are guaranteed. There is no need for panic buying.”

The region was in a state of yellow alert and anticipating heavy rains.

“Lorena is going to dump a lot of water,” said Carlos Alfredo Godínez, deputy secretary for civil defense in the state.

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 sheets of 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 nearly 8 inches of rain had fallen in a little under 24 hours, and more than 7,400 acres of crops such as bananas and papayas were damaged statewide.

But there were no deaths or significant damage to infrastructure, he said.

“There are no losses of human lives to lament,” Peralta said.

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Lorena’s brush with land caused it to lose strength and become a tropical storm, but it was forecast to regain its punch as it headed toward Los Cabos.

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Jerry weakened but was forecast to dump heavy rains on the northern Leeward Islands. It was on a track that was predicted to carry it near the northern Leeward Islands on Friday and well north of Puerto Rico on Saturday before veering well east-northeast of the Bahamas, away from any land.

Its maximum sustained winds stood at 80 mph on Friday afternoon. It was centered about 110 miles north-northeast of Barbuda and was moving to the west-northwest at 17 mph.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Humberto became a post-tropical cyclone out at sea after tearing off rooftops, toppling trees and knocking out power in Bermuda while blowing past the British territory Wednesday night. Officials said the storm caused no reported deaths.

In Texas and Louisiana, heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda flooded low-lying areas and caused at least two deaths.

The National Weather Service said preliminary estimates suggested that Jefferson County in Texas got more than 40 inches of rain in just 72 hours. That would make Imelda the seventh wettest tropical cyclone in U.S. history.


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