CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico: Hilary continued on a steady path toward Mexico´s Baja California peninsula on Saturday as a powerful hurricane that officials warned could bring “potentially catastrophic” flooding there and to parts of the US Southwest.
The storm weakened Saturday from a powerful Category 4 to Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale -- still deemed capable of “devastating damage” -- with hurricane conditions expected to continue along the Baja California coast through Sunday morning, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Mexican authorities predicted intense rainfall and electrical storms with a risk of flooding along the Pacific Coast and warned residents to take necessary precautions.
By late morning, maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 kilometers per hour) were being reported, with higher gusts, the NHC said.
“The center of Hilary will move close to the west-central coast of the Baja California peninsula tonight and Sunday morning then move across southern California Sunday afternoon and Sunday night,” the hurricane center said.
The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical storm before reaching southern California and southern Nevada, with heavy rainfalls and flooding still possible.Residents and workers in Cabo San Lucas put up protective boarding, laid sandbags and stored furniture in preparation, as large waves crashed ashore.
Navy personnel were seen patrolling the beach in Cabo San Lucas -- a popular destination for both Mexican and foreign tourists.
“We are a little scared and trying to stay positive,” Katrina Morgan, a tourist from the United States, said in the Mexican resort of Cabo San Lucas on the Baja California peninsula.
Hilary was located about 285 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Baja California, the NHC said.”On the forecast track, the centre of Hilary will move close to the west coast of the Baja California peninsula over the weekend and reach southern California by Sunday night,” it forecast.
A hurricane warning was issued for a stretch of coastline in Baja California from Punta Abreojos to Cabo San Quintin, and a hurricane watch north from there to Ensenada.
Across the border, an unusual tropical storm watch was in effect from the California/Mexico border to Point Mugu in Ventura County, as well as for Catalina Island, according to the NHC. “Fluctuations in intensity are likely through tonight,” it predicted. Hilary is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by late Sunday before it reaches southern California,” the NHC added.
The storm brought rain and rough seas to areas along Mexico’s southwestern Pacific coast, including the tourist resort of Acapulco.
In the United States, “rainfall amounts of three to six inches, with isolated amounts of 10 inches, are expected across portions of southern California and southern Nevada. Dangerous to locally catastrophic flooding will be possible,” the NHC said.
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