Hurricane Lorena spared the resort-studded twin cities of Los Cabos a direct hit, instead heading up the east coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula early Saturday, prompting new warnings and watches in that area.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Lorena was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, and its center was about 55 miles north-northwest of La Paz, Mexico. It was heading northwest at 9 mph on a forecast track parallel to the coast through the Gulf of California.
It was expected to approach the northwestern coast of mainland Mexico late Saturday and Sunday. A hurricane warning was in effect for the east coast of the Baja California peninsula from Santa Rosalia to Los Barriles and on mainland Mexico from Altata to Bahia, the hurricane center said.
For days, forecasts had predicted likely landfall at, 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 hazardous 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.
The storm kicked up strong waves in the twin resorts, but by early evening the clouds cleared partially and people ventured onto the beach.
Civil defense official Carlos Godinez 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 Godinez said that 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, 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. Jose Ignacio Peralta said 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.
In the Atlantic, meanwhile, Hurricane Jerry became a tropical storm and 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.
Jerry’s maximum sustained winds stood at 65 mph early Saturday. It was centered about 250 miles north-northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was moving to the northwest at 15 mph.