Powerful hurricane slams Baja Peninsula

Historic Hurricane Odile hits Mexican paradise hard

September 15, 2014

Hurricane Odile hammered Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula overnight, damaging homes and tearing away the facades of luxury resorts, shattering countless car and hotel windows and leaving lobbies swamped and full of debris on Monday.

Odile was the strongest storm on record to make landfall in the Baja Peninsula, coming ashore over Cabo on Sunday night as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said satellite imagery indicates Odile’s center made landfall Sunday night at about 9:45 p.m. PDT near Cabo San Lucas. It said at landfall, an automated weather station near Cabo San Lucas reported a sustained wind of 89 mph with a gust to 116 mph.

Nick Wiltgen, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, said he was monitoring “mind-boggling” reports of 11 inches of rain in just one hour- almost as much as the region’s yearly average of 13 inches. While this measurement could be due to storm-damaged equipment, he said reports of 7 inches were believable.

“It’s the entire corridor” between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, said Deneb Poli, a medical worker at the Hotel Melia Cabo Real. She said all the hotel’s guests and employees were fine, but electricity and phone lines were cut and cellphone coverage was spotty. “There are parts of hotels that are completely collapsed…. The damage is pretty extensive.”

As of Monday morning, the storm was crawling up the Baja Peninsula, with its most dangerous eastern quadrant, where the storm’s winds are strongest and waves are highest, affecting the entire area in a worst-case storm track scenario. The storm’s wind field is large enough that tropical storm and hurricane force winds are going to affect the whole peninsula from south to north on Monday and Monday night, even though the storm is weakening.

All along the highway homes and businesses were heavily damaged, may reduced to shells with only the core structure intact. The walls of an OfficeMax collapsed into the parking lot. A convenience store was ripped apart with the contents of its shelves dumped to the ground. A Comex paint shop sign was missing its “x,” ripped away from the building by the gale-force winds.

The storm was bearing down on La Paz, a city of 200,000 people, at 5:30 ET but expected to weaken as it headed up the peninsula through Tuesday. The U.S. Southwest could see heavy rain and flash flooding on Tuesday.

The U.S. hurricane center warned of possible coastal flooding and rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated amounts up to 15 inches.

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