MEXICOCITY (Reuters) – Hurricane Lorena churned slowly towards the south of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Friday, moving at a sluggish pace that threatened to lash the popular beach resorts of Los Cabos with heavy rain and high winds.
Lorena, a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was about 60 miles east-southeast of Cabo San Lucas with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a statement.
The storm’s lateral movement has slowed markedly since early Friday, and by mid-morning Lorena was moving west at just 2 mph (3 kph), the NHC said, increasing the risk that the region, visited by many U.S. tourists, could sustain a major downpour.
A few dozen people have entered temporary shelters in Cabo San Lucas, according to local civil protection authorities who were warning residents to move back from coastal areas as rain began falling on Friday morning.
The eye of the hurricane is due to cross over the tip of the peninsula and move up the coast on the western reaches of Baja California Sur state this weekend, NHC projections show.
Lorena could strengthen further on Friday, but is expected to begin weakening by Saturday night, the NHC said.
After that, the weather front should dissipate, but it may be absorbed by tropical storm Mario, which is moving towards the northwest further out in the Pacific, the centre said.
Earlier this week, Lorena hit parts of the Pacific coast of Mexico with torrential downpours, forcing schools to suspend classes and disrupting maritime traffic for major ports.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Baja California peninsula from La Paz to Puerto Cortes, the NHC said. Meanwhile, a hurricane watch has been issued for the east coast of the peninsula north of La Paz to San Evaristo, it added.
Lorena is forecast to produce 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm) of rain in parts of southern Baja California Sur, and as much as 8 inches (20 cm) in some areas, the NHC said.
The storm may cause flash flooding as well as swells that spark life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
(Reporting by Dave Graham and Miguel Gutierrez; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Chris Reese)