CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Norma strengthened slightly and dumped heavy rain after being downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday as it moved into mainland Mexico, while Hurricane Tammy left the Caribbean island of Barbuda with minor damage.
Once a Category 4 hurricane, Norma came ashore Saturday as a Category 1 near the Pacific resort of Los Cabos at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Tens of thousands were left without power.
Norma’s gusts continued to cause damage as the storm moved northeast, crossing the Gulf of California toward the Mexico mainland’s Sinaloa state, where schools were ordered closed Monday. Shelters were set up in Sinaloa and neighboring Sonora with capacity for nearly 13,000 people.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday evening that Norma was about 120 miles (195 kilometers) west of Culiacan, and about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south-southwest of Los Mochis. The storm regained a bit of strength as it moved northeastward across the Gulf of California with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph).
Up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) of rain could fall in some areas Monday, forecasters warned. “These rains will produce flash and urban flooding, along with mudslides in areas of higher terrain,” the hurricane center said.
In Los Cabos, fallen trees blocked some streets. But with no major damage, tourists began to emerge, some with the intention of leaving.
“They told us that the air terminal is now open and we want to return to San Diego, since the danger of the hurricane is over,” said Henry Brown, a U.S. citizen waiting for a cab to take him and his wife to the San Jose del Cabo airport, which resumed operations in the morning.
Brown acknowledged the wind was very strong Saturday but said they had no major problems because they stayed sheltered in the hotel.
Others, like American Noah Johnson and his family, went for a walk to see how the beach had been left but were willing to continue their vacation, which ends on Tuesday, even though they regretted that many restaurants and other businesses remained closed.
But to the north, there was no flying out of La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. It was hit with so much rain that the airport remained closed. Streams of water with logs, dirt and garbage crossed many of the highways so many entrances to the city were blocked. Elements of the security forces made rounds looking for people in need of help.
In the city’s bay, 400 people remained on a ferry that was transporting them from Sinaloa to Baja California Sur and was caught in the storm. They have not been able to get off the ferry because the port is still closed, said Santiago Jorge Morgado, commander of the Fourth Naval Region in La Paz.
Baja California Sur authorities had not reported any fatalities, but said an Argentine tourist was injured. The main damage was to boats, three of which sank, Morgado said.
The Mexican navy said it has 5.000 marines deployed to attend the states affected by Norma with ships, helicopters, trucks, food, water and first aid.
Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda escaped with no reported injuries from Hurricane Tammy. A late and sudden shift spared the Antigua from a direct hit, but left the sister island in line for the system’s full force during the late night hours Saturday.
“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no significant damage. At least we got some rain. It may not be a lot but much needed rain,” a relieved Prime Minister Gaston Browne told The Associated Press.
The hurricane made landfall on the 62-square-mile Barbuda at approximately 9:15 p.m. Saturday, bringing heavy rain and winds as high as 92 mph. The storm knocked down some power lines, triggered an island wideblackout and caused minor damage to a few homes. However, no major infrastructural damage was reported.
At least two families had to be evacuated by a local rescue team, Barbuda’s disaster coordinator, Tessa Webber, told AP.
Tammy hit as the memory and trauma of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that razed the island in 2017, remained foremost in the minds of Barbudans.
Antigua fared much better, with only a few broken branches and broken utility lines reported.
Acting electricity manager for the country’s lone utility company, Lyndon Francis, could not yet put a timeline on restoration work in Barbuda and the few communities in Antigua that lost power during the storm. Crews were out assessing the damage, he said.
Tropical Storm Otis formed over the Pacific far from Mexico’s coast, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm was about 500 miles (800 km) south-southeast of Acapulco. It was moving at 5 mph (7 kph) north-northwest, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph).
The NHC estimated that Otis would remain a tropical storm while moving closer to Mexico, before weakening to a tropical depression by Friday. But it said “heavy rainfall may impact coastal areas of southern Mexico from Oaxaca to Guerrero later this week.”
Associated Press writer Anika Kentish in St. John’s, Antigua, contributed to this report.
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