US & World

Hurricane Norbert drenches Mexico, prompting evacuations

A satellite image of Hurricane Norbert.
A satellite image of Hurricane Norbert.
National Weather Service

Rains and high surf brought by powerful Hurricane Norbert damaged more than 1,000 homes and forced thousands of people to seek higher ground as the storm roared northward Saturday off the coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

Norbert strengthened to a powerful Category 3 storm with winds of up to 115 mph (185 kph) but was staying away from land. It was near enough the coast, though, to drench fishing villages and resorts and pound beaches.

High surf and waves broke a contention wall and flooded the fishing village of Puerto de San Carlos, said Venustiano Perez, mayor of the municipality of Comondu which encompasses the village and is located about 300 miles (500 kilometers) north of the tip of the peninsula.

Perez said that 1,250 houses were damaged and that some of the 2,500 people affected were evacuated to a shelter.

Baja California Sur state Gov. Marcos Covarrubias urged people in vulnerable areas to evacuate and said travelers should stay off highways as the storm passed by. He said most government services would be closed or restricted, and schools in Los Cabos and La Paz were closed on Friday.

By Saturday morning, at least 2,000 people had been evacuated from Los Cabos, La Paz and Comondu, said the state government's civil protection director Carlos Rincon.

At least 1,000 people were in shelters Friday evening in Los Cabos, where the storm toppled trees and knocked out electricity in parts of the resort area. Firefighters rescued several people from vehicles stranded in flooded streets, said Wenceslao Pettit, Public Safety director in Cabo San Lucas.

Ports in the area popular with U.S. tourists remained closed to navigation and police officers were sent to the evacuated neighborhoods to prevent looting, Pettit added.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Saturday afternoon that Norbert was centered about 145 miles (230 kilometers) west of sparsely populated Cabo San Lazaro.

Forecasters said Norbert, which had reached hurricane strength Wednesday, was headed northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

The Hurricane Center said Norbert was helping push moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Dolly across northern Mexico and into the southwestern United States, bringing possible heavy rains in coming days to areas plagued by drought.

This story has been updated.