Mexico's Baja battens down as Hurricane Newton approaches

Officials opened 18 shelters at schools in the two resorts and 38 more in other parts of Baja California Sur state, while warning people against panic buying.

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
People play on El Medano Beach before the arrival of Hurricane Newton in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Monday Sept. 5, 2016. Authorities at the southern end of Mexico's Baja California peninsula ordered schools closed and set up emergency shelters as Hurricane Newton gained strength while bearing down on the twin resorts of Los Cabos for a predicted arrival Tuesday morning.

Hurricane Newton soaked Mexico's western Pacific coast with heavy rain Monday and took aim at Baja California's twin resorts of Los Cabos, where residents nailed plywood over windows and pulled in fishing boats while preparing for a possible direct hit two years after being slammed by a major storm.

Newton's maximum sustained winds increased to 90 mph (150 kph) by Monday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. The Category 1 storm was centered about 125 miles (200 kilometers) south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo and was moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph) on a forecast path that would bring it near or over the area Tuesday morning.

Officials opened 18 shelters at schools in the two resorts and 38 more in other parts of Baja California Sur state, while warning people against panic buying.

"There is no need for mass buying," Los Cabos Mayor Arturo de la Rosa Escalante said. "There is enough food and fuel for the next 20 days."

Los Cabos police were stationed at shopping malls to guard against the kind of looting that occurred after Hurricane Odile struck the area in 2014 as a Category 3 storm, with 125 mph (205 kph) winds.

Foreign tourists were still walking the streets of Cabo San Lucas even as workers began boarding over windows of businesses. Some boat owners took their small fishing boats out of the water.

Earlier Monday, as a tropical storm, Newton dumped torrential rains that prompted some 100 people to evacuate their homes and damaged residences in Uruapan in the Pacific coast state of Michoacan, the city government reported. Some roads were blocked by flooding and mudslides in the neighboring state of Guerrero, where some people were evacuated by helicopter. No deaths were reported in either state.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Cabo San Lucas and the nearby coastline. Coastal portions of five Mexican states could see 5 to 10 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of 15 inches, the hurricane center said.

Newton was expected to move up the peninsula and enter the Gulf of California by Tuesday night. The hurricane center said the storm was likely to continue north and cross into southern Arizona as a tropical depression Wednesday night.

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