, MEXICO, Sep 6 – Hurricane Newton swirled toward Mexico’s popular northwestern resorts of Los Cabos, prompting authorities to close schools and airports two years after a powerful storm pummeled the region.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion” in parts of the Baja California peninsula and that Newton would make landfall on Tuesday.
The NHC said at 0000 GMT that Newton was packing top winds of 85 miles (140 kilometers) per hour as it churned some 160 miles southeast of Cabo San Lucas.
The government of the state of Baja California Sur opened several shelters with room for 16,000 people after the tropical storm became a hurricane.
Some 15,000 tourists are in the region, mostly in Los Cabos, according to Baja California Sur’s tourism secretary, Genaro Ruiz Hernandez, who announced that all flights were canceled in the state late Monday.
Authorities also closed ports to small boats in Baja and other parts of the Pacific coast.
The Mexican government issued hurricane warnings for the west coast of the state of Baja California Sur as well as Cabo San Lucas in its southern tip, a favored destination of American tourists.
Los Cabos was pummeled in September 2014 by Hurricane Odile, which left six people dead, stranded tourists and caused $1 billion in damage.
Newton is expected to pick up more steam before landfall and be near or over the southern tip of the peninsula early Tuesday morning, US forecasters said.
The storm is due to produce up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain in several Pacific coast states, which could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, the center said.
A “dangerous” storm surge was expected to cause significant coastal flooding, it added.
– Damage in Acapulco –
Newton threatened to cause more mudslides and flooding in eight states along the Pacific coast, Mexican authorities said, adding that thousands of shelters were readied.
The weather system already caused damage in the south over the weekend before it became a tropical storm, with heavy rains blamed for three deaths in the southern state of Chiapas.
Floods and landslides damaged or affected some 70 homes and schools and trapped around 200 people in Acapulco, the resort in the southwestern state of Guerrero.
Torrential rains that began Saturday morning flooded some 1,400 homes and caused more than 30 landslides on highways in Guerrero, civil protection authorities said.
Heavy rainfall trapped around 200 people in a housing complex, prompting air evacuations by police, marines and the army.
– Hermine threat –
While western Mexico was getting hammered with precipitation, the United States was spared the worst when Tropical Storm Hermine crashed ashore in Florida — a hurricane at the time — before moving out to sea.
The hurricane center warned that the post-tropical cyclone would cause a storm surge and tide that could flood normally dry areas in the northeastern United States.
Located some 150 miles southeast of the eastern tip of New York’s Long Island, Hermine packed sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, but it was expected to weaken late Tuesday.
Tropical storm warnings were issued in Long Island and parts of the northeastern states of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Hermine killed two people after striking Florida on Friday before weakening to tropical storm status as it moved north off the US East Coast.
It was Florida’s first hurricane landfall since 2005, causing street flooding and power outages.