Mexico Issues Hurricane Warning as Odile Strikes

By and Lars Paulsson | September 15, 2014

Mexico issued a hurricane warning for parts of Baja California as Odile struck the resort area of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the peninsula.

Mexico declared a red alert along the coastline as well as the mainland as the country prepared to celebrate its independence day holiday. The storm made landfall at 9:45 p.m. local time and was moving north-northwest at 16 miles per hour (26 kilometers per hour), with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

“The hurricane should steadily weaken during the next few days while the circulation and inner-core continue to interact with the Baja California peninsula,” the center said.

As of 10 p.m. yesterday in Mexico City, 18 flights, or about 30 percent, in and out of Los Cabos International Airport had been canceled, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company.

“A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding,” an earlier advisory said. “The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.”

The surge may reach 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters) high, with waves pounding in on top of that, according to Steve Wistar, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Forward Motion

Tropical systems in the Northern Hemisphere spin counter- clockwise, and when added to the forward motion of the storm, this means the northeast side is the most powerful. There is a good chance Odile will cause extensive damage, Wistar said.

As a category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, Odile is classified as a major hurricane, according to the center. Its winds reach out about 50 miles from its center, and its tropical-storm strength extends about 185 miles.

Residents were told to leave their homes if they didn’t feel safe and know the route to a temporary shelter in case they decide to leave later, according to Mexico’s civil protection agency. Everyone was told to stay indoors.

Storms of this strength can damage buildings and block roads as trees are uprooted, according to the center. Toppled power lines can cause outages lasting for days.

Widespread heavy rain is forecast for Baja California Sur, as well as the Mexican states of Colima, Jalisco and western Michoacan to the east, the center said. Isolated regions may receive as much as 18 inches (46 centimeters) of rain.

Odile will weaken as it moves up the west side of the Baja California peninsula later this week. The hurricane center calls for Odile to deteriorate into a depression, the weakest form of tropical system, by the end of the week.

The U.S. Southwest has a good chance of getting another round of flooding rain as the moisture from Odile heads north, Wistar said.

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