Hurricane Newton slammed into the twin resorts of Los Cabos on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula Tuesday morning, knocking out power in some places as stranded tourists huddled in their hotels.
Newton made landfall as a Category 1 storm with winds of 90 mph (150 kph), pelting the area near Cabo San Lucas with heavy rain and blowing down at least half a dozen palm trees along the coastal boulevard.
It then moved inland, retaining its winds almost unabated, and by early Tuesday was located about 50 miles (85 kilometers) northwest of Cabo San Lucas.
Mexico extended hurricane warnings for the peninsula and also a stretch of the mainland coast across the Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez. The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Hurricane Newton could cross the peninsula as a hurricane and re-enter the gulf.
Newton was forecast to dump 8 to 12 inches of rain on Baja California Sur state with isolated maximums up to 18 inches, and heavy rains were also expected for five other states. Newton could even reach the U.S. border at Arizona as a tropical storm, according to the latest forecasts.
Boat owners pulled fishing craft in from the water ahead of the storm’s arrival and business owners nailed boards and sheets of plywood over windows in Cabo San Lucas, which was hammered by Category 3 Hurricane Odile in 2014.
About 14,000 tourists remained in Los Cabos as of Monday night as airlines cancelled flights out as the storm approached, said Genaro Ruiz, the state tourism secretary. Ruiz said tourists had been advised to remain in their hotels.
“The most important thing is to stay at home,” said Carlos Godinez, a civil defense official for Baja California Sur. “If there is nothing that requires you to be outside, take shelter with your family.”
Officials evacuated low-lying areas and opened 18 shelters at schools in the two resorts and 38 more in other parts of the state, while warning people against panic buying.
“There is no need for mass buying,” Los Cabos Mayor Arturo de la Rosa Escalante said. “There is enough food and fuel for the next 20 days.”
Los Cabos police were stationed at shopping malls to guard against the kind of looting that occurred after Hurricane Odile.
Earlier Monday, torrential rains from then-Tropical Storm Newton prompted some 100 people to evacuate their homes and damaged residences in Uruapan in the Pacific coast state of Michoacan, the city government reported.
Some roads were blocked by flooding and mudslides in the neighboring state of Guerrero, where some people were evacuated by helicopter. No deaths were reported in either state.
Hurricane Newton was expected to move up the peninsula and enter the Gulf of California by Tuesday night.
The hurricane center said the storm could dump 1 to 3 inches of rain over parts of Arizona and New Mexico through Thursday, threatening flash floods and landslides.