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Hurricane Norma takes aim at Mexico, as Tammy threatens islands in the Atlantic

Los Cabos hotels, which are largely frequented by foreign tourists, remained about three-quarters full

Residents of Mexico’s Los Cabos resorts rushed to prepare as Hurricane Norma headed toward the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula for an expected landfall Saturday, while in the Atlantic, Hurricane Tammy threatened to batter the islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Businesses in Cabo San Lucas nailed up sheets of plywood over their windows, and government personnel hung up banners warning people not to try to cross gullies and stream beds after Norma regained strength and once again became a major storm Friday.

By early Saturday (Oct. 21), Norma had weakened slightly and was downgraded to Category 2 on the hurricane wind scale. It was located 30 miles west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas storm with winds of 100 mph (155 kmh) and moving at 8 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Norma was expected to continue on that path through the evening before turning to the northeast and slowing down through Monday.

The hurricane’s languid pace raised the possibility of severe flooding. Norma was expected to dump six to 12 inches of rain with a maximum of 18 inches in places across southern Baja California and much of Sinaloa state.

According to the national civil protection agency, shelters in Baja California housed some 1,500 people by Saturday morning.

The Los Cabos Civil Defense agency urged residents to stay indoors all day as winds and rain increased. Emergency workers rushed around the city evacuating people from low-lying areas and moving them to shelters.

Police in San Jose del Cabo rescued two people from their truck when a surging stream swept it away early Saturday.

Hotels in Los Cabos, which are largely frequented by foreign tourists, remained about three-quarters full and there was no major move by visitors to leave, Baja California Sur state tourism secretary Maribel Collins said.

With rain already falling in Los Cabos, some flights in and out were canceled Friday, there was no way out anyway. Airports were closed Saturday, according to the local civil defense office.

The local hotel association estimated there were about 40,000 tourists still in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo on Friday.

A couple from San Diego walked through the largely deserted streets of Cabo San Lucas on Friday. Because their sports fishing tournament had been postponed until next week, they had little choice but to stay. The local port was closed to navigation as a precaution.

At the marina in Cabo San Lucas, José Ceseña was hauling out of the water the boat he usually uses to ferry tourists around on tours. With the port closed and a hurricane coming, he said it wasn’t worth risking his craft.

Homero Blanco, the state commander of the National Guard, said beaches at the resort had been ordered closed and Guard troops were sent to clear people from the seashore.

The federal government posted 500 marines to the resort to help with storm preparations, and municipal officials said as many as 39 emergency shelters could be opened if needed.

A hurricane warning was issued for the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, and the forecast track would take a weakened Norma toward the mainland of Mexico’s western Pacific coast as a tropical storm.

Norma was expected to weaken somewhat as it neared land, but not as much as originally forecast.

In the Atlantic, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Tammy had winds of 85 mph (140 kph), and hurricane warnings were issued for the islands of Guadeloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Tammy was moving northwest at 8 mph (13 kmh).

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Tammy was about 55 miles (85 kilometers) east of Martinique and 135 miles (220 kilometers) southeast of the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and was moving west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).

Tammy was expected to remain at hurricane strength and even strengthen slightly as it moved toward the Lesser Antilles through Saturday passing by Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda. Both Martinique and Guadeloupe are French overseas departments.

The hurricane center said in a report that “heavy rainfall and flooding (are) likely over much of the Lesser Antilles.”

Two weeks after Tropical Storm Phillippe rolled through Antigua and Barbuda dumping six to eight inches of rain and plunging both islands into darkness, residents of the islands braced for Tammy’s arrival. The slow-moving system was forecast to bring up to 12 inches over a twin island nation where the devastation of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and recent wind damage and flooding from Philippe are still fresh memories.

“This means therefore, that the earth is still somewhat saturated and with additional rainfall, the potential for flooding is elevated,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in a nationwide broadcast on Friday afternoon. He urged residents to take all necessary steps to secure life and property.

Government offices, banks, and most non-retail businesses closed early on Friday to allow staff to prepare. Residents’ rush to stock up on necessities caused gridlock throughout St John’s and near popular shopping centers and supermarkets.

Local disaster management officials announced plans to open an estimated 40 shelters in communities throughout the country.

Ignacio Martínez, The Associated Press