Genevieve passing close to Mexico’s Baja as Cat 1 hurricane

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) —

A weakened Hurricane Genevieve buffeted the southern end of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula with heavy rain and strong winds Wednesday night, making what was expected to be a close pass by the tourist region without making landfall.

Genevieve, which had a been a powerful Category 4 hurricane Tuesday, lost power Wednesday and was down to a Category 1 storm, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The center said the hurricane was forecast to stay out in the Pacific as it moved northwestward along the Baja coast during the night and into Thursday, raking land with hard rains and tropical storm-forces winds. But the center warned that only a slight deviation to the east could bring hurricane-force winds onshore.

High surf had already claimed two lives in the area. Police in Cabo San Lucas said a 15-year-girl was trapped by a large wave and an adult tried to save her Tuesday. Both died.

The hurricane center said Genevieve had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) Wednesday night and was centered about 65 miles (100 kilometers) south-southwest of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. It was moving to the north-northwest at 7 mph (11 kph).

As rain and winds began to hit the region early Wednesday, authorities went door-to-door encouraging people living in low-lying areas to move to shelters.

Los Cabos civil defense director Erick Santillán said more than 100 people were in shelters. 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.

Los Cabos Mayor Armida Castro Guzmán said the shelters were staffed with medical personnel and there were locations to isolate COVID-19 positive or suspected cases.

Baja California Sur state officials said 15,000 foreign tourists were in the state, most in the Los Cabos region, which earlier had almost been emptied of visitors by pandemic restrictions. Hotel occupancy was at 20%.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the peninsula from Los Barriles to Todos Santos, including the Los Cabos resorts.

The storm was expected to drop as much aso 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain over parts of Baja California Sur state as it advanced, bringing the possibility of flash floods and mudslides. Up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) was possible in isolated areas, the hurricane center said.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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