Hurricane Norma Makes Landfall in Baja California

Tropical Storm Norma made landfall on Saturday in Baja California Sur, Mexico, bringing torrential rain and strong winds to the southern portions of the state, the country’s meteorological service said.

The storm was a Category 1 hurricane and had winds reaching 85 miles per hour shortly before making landfall earlier on Saturday in the town of Todos Santos, about 47 miles north of the resort city of Cabo San Lucas.

Norma weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday evening as it continued its path over Baja California Sur, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was expected to make landfall in the western state of Sinaloa on the country’s mainland on Sunday, the center said.

Norma had approached the Baja California peninsula late Friday, bringing strong winds and some rain overnight, Mexican officials said. Mudslides, powerful winds, heavy rain and flooding were forecast for the southern part of Baja California Sur, which was predicted to receive the worst effects of the storm through the weekend as it moved inland. The northwestern states of Mexico were also likely to see strong rain over the weekend, Mexico’s meteorological service said on social media.

Víctor Manuel Castro Cosío, the governor of Baja California Sur, said in a Facebook post on Saturday afternoon that the peak of the storm had already passed over the municipality of Los Cabos, though he cautioned residents of La Paz, a seafront community and the state’s capital, to brace for its impact.

“The emergency has not passed,” Mr. Castro Cosío said at an afternoon news conference. “We continue to ask people, especially in the municipality of La Paz, to exercise precautions.”

Video posted to social media on Saturday afternoon showed fast-moving floodwaters thrashing stranded vehicles on the streets of La Paz.

Mexican officials said on Saturday that no deaths had been reported, though the storm had obstructed roadways, caused power outages and torn the roofs off some shoddy buildings.

Local officials warned residents in areas prone to flooding to evacuate to shelters because rescue crews were likely to have a difficult time reaching them as the center of the storm barreled through. Many residents had already evacuated.

Preparations for potentially dangerous effects from the storm began on Friday. Officials suspended school in the municipality of Los Cabos in Baja California Sur, and the state government shared a list on Facebook of more than 40 temporary shelters that residents could travel to ahead of the threatening conditions.

Officials had also closed the ports of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas,, and hotel and resort workers were making plans to “protect the safety” of the roughly 40,000 tourists in the area, according to the governor’s office.

A hurricane warning, which is typically issued 36 hours before the onset of tropical-storm-force winds, had been in effect for the peninsula from Todos Santos, a town on the Pacific Coast, across the southern portion of the peninsula to Los Barriles, a town on the Gulf of California. Mexican officials downgraded it to a tropical storm warning on Saturday afternoon.

Though Norma made landfall on Saturday as a Category 1 storm, wind speeds of 130 miles per hour had pushed it into a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday.

Five to 10 inches of rain, with some areas possibly receiving up to 15 inches through Sunday, could generate flooding, including in urban areas, and mudslides at higher elevations. Swells spreading northward along the coasts of Baja California Sur and southwestern Mexico could also cause dangerous surfing conditions.

The Mexican government has also issued tropical storm warnings for several areas: from north Los Barriles to La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, and from north of Todos Santos to the Santa Fe neighborhood. Another warning was also in effect for Mazatlán and communities along the Sinaloa coast.

On Saturday, Sinaloa’s civil protection agency asked residents to avoid the state’s beaches, as high tides were expected ahead of the approaching storm.

Norma is the 14th named storm to form in the eastern Pacific so far in 2023, compared with 19 named storms in 2022.

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