Powerful Hurricane Genevieve approached Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on Wednesday, threatening to bring tropical storm force winds to parts of the touristy region even if its center wasn’t likely to hit land.
The Category 3 storm is expected to pass near the southern portion of the peninsula on Wednesday night and Thursday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
High surf had already claimed two lives. Police in Cabo San Lucas said a 15-year-girl was trapped by a large wave and an adult tried to save her on Tuesday. Both died.
Baja California Sur state officials said 15,000 foreign tourists were in the state, most in the Los Cabos region, which earlier had almost been emptied of visitors by COVID-19 restrictions.
The hurricane center said Genevieve had weakened slightly, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) early Wednesday and was centered about 160 miles (260 kilometers) south-southeast of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. It was moving to the northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).
The port was closed and city officials said they had set up shelters for people who need to evacuate. More than 10,000 families live in flood-prone informal settlements in homes of wood and cardboard in Cabo San Lucas, areas that usually have to be evacuated when storms approach.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the peninsula from Los Barriles to Puerto Cortes.
The storm was expected to spread 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of water over parts of Baja California Sur state as it advances roughly parallel to the coast.