MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Hurricane Lorena churned close to the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Friday afternoon, threatening to lash the popular beach resorts of Los Cabos with high wind and heavy rains.
Lorena, a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was about 35 miles east of Cabo San Lucas with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a statement.
“Hurricane conditions should begin soon,” the NHC said.
The storm’s westward movement picked up to 6 mph (10 kph), and the eye of Lorena was due to cross over the end of the peninsula and move up the coast on the western reaches of Baja California Sur state this weekend, NHC projections show.
Dozens of people have entered temporary shelters in Cabo San Lucas, according to local civil protection authorities who warned residents to retreat from coastal areas as rain began falling.
Lorena could strengthen further on Friday, but is expected to begin weakening by Saturday night, the NHC said.
The weather front could then dissipate or be absorbed by tropical storm Mario, which is moving toward the northwest farther out in the Pacific, the center said.
Earlier this week, Lorena hit parts of the Pacific coast of Mexico with torrential downpours, forcing schools to suspend classes and disrupting maritime traffic for major ports.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Baja California peninsula from La Paz to Puerto Cortes, the NHC said. A hurricane watch has been issued for the east coast of the peninsula north of La Paz to San Evaristo, it added.
Lorena is forecast to produce 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm) of rain in parts of southern Baja California Sur, and as much as 8 inches (20 cm) in some areas, the NHC said.
The storm may cause flash flooding as well as swells that spark life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Reporting by Dave Graham and Miguel Gutierrez; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler