Baja shops boarded and troops on alert for Hurricane Blanca
Hurricane Blanca was weakening even as it roared toward Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on Sunday, and authorities put thousands of troops on alert and businesses boarded over windows ahead of its arrival.
The unpredictable storm had strengthened rapidly to a Category 4 storm on Saturday before weakening to Category 1 by Sunday morning.
Blanca is expected to approach Baja California’s southwestern coastline later Sunday and move near or along the coast in the evening and on Monday. The director of Mexico’s National Water Commission, Roberto Ramirez, said he was concerned about Blanca’s “erratic” behavior and warned residents along the coast to be prepared for intense rains.
In Baja California, 2,000 army troops and 1,321 marines were on alert, as well as emergency responders and power line technicians, said Civil Protection director Luis Felipe Puente.
He said there is currently a 70 percent hotel occupancy rate in Los Cabos and warned tourists to be attentive to any advisories issued by authorities
Some businesses and banks on Saturday were seen hammering boards over their windows in preparation for Blanca’s arrival. People began forming lineups at gas stations to stock up on fuel.
Blanca’s maximum sustained winds had decreased Sunday morning to near 90 mph (150 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The hurricane is centered about 180 miles (290 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and is moving north-northwest near 12 mph (19 kph).
A hurricane watch is in effect for an area from Cabo San Lucas to Santa Fe. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Loreto to Punta Abreojos, including Cabo San Lucas.
Puente said he saw no reason to suspend local elections scheduled to be held on Sunday.