MEXICO CITY -- Hurricane Barbara slammed into the Pacific Coast of Mexico Wednesday, leaving two people dead and 14 fishermen missing in the state of Oaxaca, before reportedly being downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved north toward the Gulf of Mexico.
The Oaxacan state government reported that a 25-year-old man in the municipality of Pinotepa Nacional drowned, apparently while trying to cross a riverbed that was quickly filling with water from the pounding rainstorm. (Link in Spanish)
On the Oaxacan coast, in an area called Playa Azul, a U.S. surfer named Douglas Ketchum, 61, died in heavy surf, the state government reported.
Notimex, the official Mexican news agency, reported that the missing fishermen were from the municipality of Tapanatepec. (Link in Spanish)
The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the center of the storm was on land in southern Mexico at 5 p.m. Wednesday. It was expected to head north, seriously weakened by the time it arrives in the Gulf of Mexico late Thursday.
On Wednesday evening, however, maximum sustained winds were still as high as 60 miles per hour, and officials warned residents of the possibility of flash flooding and mudslides.
Officials had shut down ports along the Pacific coast of Oaxaca and neighboring Chiapas before the storm hit. Serious flooding was also reported in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, in Guerrero state.