Update: Blanca a Tropical Storm as it Begins to Lash Baja California Resort Areas
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Hurricane Blanca has lost enough strength to be downgraded to a tropical storm as it draws close to the Baja California Peninsula, according to the Associated Press.
Homes and storefronts have been boarded up as heavy rain and high winds are expected to strike a wide swath of the peninsula, including the heavily touristed resorts of Los Cabos.
The AP reports that Blanca will pass west of Baja’s southern tip, and move near or alongside the southwestern coastline as Sunday turns to Monday.
According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Blanca's maximum sustained winds are around 70 mph. The storm's center is about 130 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and moving north-northwest at about 9 mph.
Mexico's National Water Commission put out a warning of strong winds, lightning, up to 20-foot surf and "extraordinary rainfall," with potential localized accumulations of 10 inches or more in Baja California Sur the home state of Los Cabos.
Memories of Hurricane Odile’s damage to area are driving locals to quickly batten down the hatches. That full brunt of that storm hit Los Cabos as a Category 3 last September, devastating homes, stores, and luxury hotels. According to the AP, some hotels still haven’t finished repairs and reopened post-Odile.
James Kicklighter, a Los Angeles film writer and director on vacation in Cabo San Lucas, told the AP that wind was rattling windows and doors at his hotel, and said that his lodging closed the beach and pools, took down light fixtures and artworks, and suspended alcohol and restaurant service.
Kicklighter said he was advised by hotel staff to close his room curtains and move the dresser against the glass doors to the patio to brace them against the weather.
"I'm not feeling very nervous at this point with the constant downgrades, but I have a healthy respect for hurricanes growing up with family in Florida," he said to the AP via email. "People here are excited to ride it out, taking a lot of selfies."
Los Cabos Civil Protection director Wenceslao Pettit said no evacuations were underway, but nine emergency shelters are at the ready, and the port is closed to small watercraft.
A tropical storm warning was in effect from Loreto to Punta Abreojos, including Cabo San Lucas, and all hurricane watches for the peninsula have been discontinued.
More by Michael Isenbek
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