CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Genevieve grew rapidly into a highly dangerous Category 4 storm on Tuesday, threatening to bring tropical storm force winds to parts of the Baja California Peninsula even if its center wasn’t likely to hit land.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) Tuesday afternoon and it was centered about 280 miles (450 kilometers) south-southeast of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. It was moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).
Forecasters said tropical storm force winds were likely to start hitting parts of the peninsula on Wednesday night or Thursday before it moves over cooler waters and starts to weaken.
On Tuesday, Elio López pulled his small boat out of the water in Cabo San Lucas in preparation for the storm’s arrival. Officials had already closed the port. “There’s nothing for left for us to do, but take the boat to a safe place,” he said.
More than 10,000 families live in flood-prone informal settlements in homes of wood and cardboard in Cabo San Lucas, areas that usually have to be evacuated when storms approach.
In one such neighborhood, El Caribe, residents appeared calm Tuesday. “They haven’t told us anything, but if there’s strong wind it’s going to take the roof off the house,” said Flor Juárez, who moved to the area three years from the southern state of Guerrero.
Along the tourist areas in Cabo San Lucas, the streets were semi-empty, but it has been that way for some time. Most of the tourist-oriented businesses remain closed due to the pandemic.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the peninsula from Todos Santos to Puerto Cortes.
Los Cabos municipal civil defense director Erick Santillán said as the storm neared that officials would decide whether to open shelters. “It’s not going to hit us, but it will give us water and strong winds,” he said. “We’re already making preparations.”
The storm was expected to spread 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10 centimeters) of water over parts of Baja California Sur state as it advances roughly parallel to the coast.
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