Hurricane Newton uprooted trees, broke windows and left two people dead as it roared across Mexico’s northwestern Baja California peninsula on Tuesday, but the tourist region was spared of major damage, reports BSS.
The storm packed winds of 145 kilometers (90 miles) an hour when it made landfall before dawn at the southern tip of the peninsula as thousands of tourists hunkered down in hotels in the Los Cabos resort.
But the region prized by American and Canadian tourists avoided a major disaster, two years after a deadly Hurricane Odile ravaged the Los Cabos resort, killing six people and causing $1 billion damage in the September 2014.
Hurricane Newton made landfall near the resort of Los Cabos
“According to the latest reports, #Newton only caused minor damages in infrastructure,” President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter, adding that there were no injuries.
The US National Hurricane Center reported later in the day that Newton’s winds weakened to 120 kilometers per hour as it moved north into the Gulf of California, drenching the peninsula and mainland Mexico’s northwest coast.
Newton is forecast to cross the Gulf of California and make a second landfall into the Mexican mainland early Wednesday before reaching the US state of Arizona that afternoon.
The storm caused a large swell that sunk a shrimp fishing boat between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific ocean, leaving two people dead and three missing, said Los Cabos civil protection director Marco Antonio Vazquez.
The two bodies washed ashore on a beach. Vazquez said the boat had ignored warnings against going out at sea. Vazquez said Newton’s winds took down trees and tin roofs from poorer neighborhoods but that a disaster was avoided because the hurricane went through rural, sparsely inhabited areas.
Some hotel windows broke, but the 14,000 tourists in Los Cabos were “safe” in rooms made to shelter them within the facilities, said state tourism secretary Genaro Ruiz Hernandez.
Some 1,500 people took refuge in shelters in the resort town but many returned home, Vazquez said. Power went out in parts of Los Cabos and La Paz, while phone service was disrupted.
Police said five people were arrested for trying to loot two convenience stores in Los Cabos. Officers guarded several shops to prevent the kind of looting that was seen after Odile struck.
Local airports closed late Monday, while small boats were barred from using the ports in case of a storm surge in low-lying areas. Schools were shut down.
North of Los Cabos, in La Paz, where trees also fell, locals had boarded up shop windows and 400 people were evacuated from vulnerable areas.
The storm is due to produce up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain in Baja California Sur and as much as 25 centimeters in several Pacific coast states, which could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
The weather system caused damage in the country’s south over the weekend before it became a tropical storm, flooding 1,400 homes in Guerrero state and leaving three dead in Chiapas.