CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico — Residents of Mexico’s Los Cabos resorts rushed to prepare as Hurricane Norma headed toward the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula for an expected landfall Saturday, while in the Atlantic, Hurricane Tammy threatened to hit the Lesser Islands. Antilles.
Businesses in Cabo San Lucas installed sheets of plywood on their windows, and government employees hung signs warning people not to try to cross canyons and stream beds after Norma regained strength and once again transformed into a major storm on Friday.
The hurricane is expected to continue on this path through the evening before turning to the northeast and slowing down until Monday. The forecast track will take a weakened Norma toward the mainland of Mexico’s western Pacific Coast as a tropical storm.
Its weak pace raised the possibility of severe flooding. Rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with a maximum of 18 inches, is expected in places across southern Baja California and much of Sinaloa state.
According to the National Civil Protection Agency, shelters in Baja California were housing about 1,500 people by Saturday morning.
The Los Cabos Civil Defense Agency urged residents to stay indoors throughout the day as winds and rain increased. Emergency workers rushed to the area to evacuate residents from low-lying areas and move them to shelters.
Police in San Jose del Cabo rescued two people from their truck when it was swept away by a rip current early Saturday. Some slum areas, far from hotels serving tourists, were already isolated due to rising water levels. Electricity and internet service were cut off in some neighborhoods.
By late morning, the area’s streets were littered with palm fronds and other debris, and were essentially deserted except for occasional military patrols. Strong winds knocked down traffic lights, trees and power lines.
The US National Hurricane Center said hurricane conditions were already occurring in the southern parts of the peninsula.
Hotels in Los Cabos, largely frequented by foreign tourists, remained about three-quarters full and visitors had not taken any major steps to leave en masse, said Baja California Sur state tourism minister Maribel Collins.
There was no way out anyway: the airports were closed on Saturday, according to the local civil defense office.
The local hotel association estimated that about 40,000 tourists were still in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo on Friday.
At the marina in Cabo San Lucas, Jose Cesinha was pulling out of the water the boat he usually uses to take tourists on tours. With the port closed to navigation and a hurricane hitting, he said it was not worth risking his vehicle.
Homero Blanco, commander of the state National Guard, said that orders were issued to close the beaches in the resort and guard forces were sent to evacuate the beachfront.
The federal government has deployed 500 Marines to the resort to help with storm preparations, and municipal officials said up to 39 emergency shelters could be opened, if necessary.
In the Atlantic Ocean, the US National Hurricane Center said that Hurricane Tammy had winds of 85 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour), and hurricane warnings were issued for the islands of Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Tammy was moving toward the northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).
In the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Tammy was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Guadeloupe and 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of the Caribbean island of Antigua.
Tammy is expected to remain at hurricane strength and even strengthen slightly as it moves towards the Lesser Antilles during Saturday, passing through Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda. Martinique and Guadeloupe are both French overseas departments.
“Heavy rain and flooding are likely across much of the Lesser Antilles,” the hurricane center said in a report.
Two weeks after Tropical Storm Philip slammed into Antigua and Barbuda, dumping 6 to 8 inches of rain and plunging the islands into darkness, islanders braced for Tammy’s arrival. The slow-moving system is expected to reach 12 inches over the twin island nation where the devastation of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and damage from recent winds and flooding from Phillip are still vivid memories.
“This means the ground is still fairly saturated and with additional rainfall, the potential for flooding is high,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in a nationwide broadcast on Friday afternoon. He called on citizens to take all necessary measures to secure their lives and property.
Government offices, banks and most non-retail businesses closed early Friday to allow employees to prepare. A rush by residents to stock up on necessities has caused gridlock across St. John’s and near popular shopping centers and supermarkets.
Local disaster management officials announced plans to open an estimated 40 shelters in communities across the country.
AP writer Annika Kentich in St. John’s, Antigua, contributed to this report.
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