Lorena spares Los Cabos, heads up coast of Mexico’s Baja

Hurricane Lorena spared the resort-studded twin cities of Los Cabos a direct hit and was reduced to a tropical storm Saturday as it headed up the east coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded Lorena to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon, saying it has maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h, and its centre was about 85 kilometres north-northeast of Loreto, Mexico. It was heading to the north at 19 km/h on a forecast track parallel to the coast, through the Sea of Cortez.

The core of Lorena “did not survive the high terrain of the southern Baja California peninsula,” the centre said.

The Mexican government has discontinued the tropical storm warning for the Baja peninsula and the hurricane watch for portions of mainland Mexico.

Minimal damage

The storm brought intense rain and strong waves to Los Cabos, but minimal damage. Clouds began to clear Friday evening. Electric service was spotty in some communities.

For days, forecasts had predicted likely landfall in close to it with Los Cabos, but the storm took a path well east of the glitzy resort area.

Residents wade through a flooded road during a rainstorm caused by tropical storm Lorena on the outskirts of Manzanillo, in Colima state, Mexico. (Jesus Lozoya/Reuters)

On Friday, residents and tourists in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo hunkered down in homes, shelters and hotels amid extreme weather warnings.

Police and soldiers went through low-lying, low-income neighbourhoods in Los Cabos urging people to evacuate. Locals who have been through past hurricanes pulled boats from the water and boarded up windows and doors.

Banana and papaya crops damaged

Authorities in Los Cabos said 787 people had taken refuge at 18 storm shelters. Officials had closed the port and suspended school classes for Friday.

Lorena came onshore a day earlier as a hurricane in the western Mexican state of Colima. It flooded streets, washed out roads and touched off minor slides in 10 municipalities. Dozens of trees were downed, and power was knocked out in some areas.

Residents stand near debris from a restaurant damaged by rain in Manzanillo. (Jesus Lozoya/Reuters)

Colima state Gov. Jose Ignacio Peralta said more than 3,000 hectares of crops such as bananas and papayas were damaged statewide, but there were no deaths or significant damage to infrastructure.

On Saturday afternoon, Lorena’s tropical force winds extended outward up to 20 kilometres to the north and east of its centre. Baja California Sur Gov. Carlos Mendoza urged residents to still exercise caution.

Mario and Jerry also blowing

A second cyclone, tropical storm Mario, was weakening as it hovered several hundred kilometres south of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. Mario was expected to disperse by Monday.

In the Atlantic, meanwhile, tropical storm Jerry was headed northwest toward Bermuda, after kicking up rough seas around Puerto Rico.

The hurricane centre warned that swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip-current conditions for portions of the northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.

Jerry’s maximum sustained winds stood at 100 km/h Saturday afternoon. It was centred about 510 kilometres north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was moving to the northwest at 22 km/h.

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