Dangerous Hurricane Hilary hits Mexico, California with heavy rains

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico – Hilary brought heavy rains on Saturday to portions of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula and the south-western United States, as officials warned the powerful hurricane was likely to cause “catastrophic and life-threatening” flooding.

The storm had weakened on Saturday from a powerful Category 4 to Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale – but it was still deemed capable of “extensive damage,” and hurricane conditions were expected to continue along the Baja California coast through Sunday morning, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

By Saturday afternoon, Hilary was packing maximum sustained winds of 175kmh, with higher gusts, the NHC said.

“Heavy rains” were affecting portions of Baja California and the south-western United States, with “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding likely”.

“The centre 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 centre said.

The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical storm before reaching southern California and southern Nevada, with heavy rainfall and flooding still possible.

Residents and workers in the Mexican tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas have put up protective boarding and laid thousands of sandbags as large waves began crashing ashore.

Military personnel were seen patrolling the beach in the city, a popular destination for both Mexican and foreign tourists.

“We took all the precautionary measures last night,” Omar Olvera told AFP on Saturday at the Cabo San Lucas beachfront restaurant where he works.

With sandbags piled protectively around the restaurant, he said: “We’re just looking out for the workers and waiting for the weather to come.”

Streets in the town of Todos Santos, on the west coast of the peninsula, were largely deserted on Saturday while the beach in nearby Cerritos was closed due to rough waves.

“Last night we felt the wind picking up, it wasn’t as strong as we were expecting but it still caused us to worry,” said Marco Segura, a 57-year-old worker in Cerritos.


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