Hurricane Odile weakens, but torrential rains expected

National/World News
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CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico — Hurricane Odile was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane Monday morning, hours after making landfall at the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, according to that country’s National Meteorology Service.

Odile is heading northeast, with strong torrential rains expected in Baja California, Sonora, Nayarit, Jalisco, Durango, Colima, Chihuahua and Michoacán.

Central Baja California, northwest of Sinaloa and southwest of Sonora, is under red alert, according to the Mexican interior minister’s official Twitter page. A red alert means people in those areas must take shelter, and all public activities are canceled. Temporary shelters have been organized in public buildings.

On Sunday, gales from Odile whipped torrents of rain ashore, chasing visitors in popular tourist destinations into close quarters. Streets in Cabo San Lucas were drenched. Palm trees were knocked over, and outdoor markets were trashed.

Sarah McKinney was in Cabo on maternity leave from her job in Arkansas when the then-Category 3 storm hit with 125-mph winds Sunday night.

She and her newborn daughter, Madison, had already evacuated out of harm’s way from their first hotel to a second one. But even there, the room roared like a wind tunnel as Odile passed over.

Raul Frias, from Mexico City, was at Club Regina in Cabo when he tweeted that he felt a “great vibration” in a shelter and that something “big was coming down.”

At least 15,000 tourists were sharing McKinney’s experience in Cabo, Mexican civil defense official Luis Felipe Puente said.

She piled up her belongings in the bathtub to protect them from the water seeping through the door to her room. She dammed it up with a mattress, but it still came in about an inch deep.

“I’ve cleared the beds and linen closets and have my daughter and I held up in the bathroom,” she said.

Then the winds subsided. Madison fell asleep.

“The pressure was horrific, but now it is eerily calm — just how people describe when the eye passes over,” she said.

But then the winds smacked the hotel again, and McKinney headed back into the bathroom.

“The backhalf is definitely worse,” she posted to Twitter. “More debris and stronger winds and rain. Bedroom is getting soaked from water seeping in.”

Odile was earlier predicted to bring possibly life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, forecasters said Sunday.

Ports and beaches have been closed, and school classes and celebrations for Mexico’s Independence Day were canceled in Baja California Sur state. Independence Day is Tuesday.

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