Hurricane Norma made landfall on Saturday in Baja California Sur, Mexico, bringing torrential rain and strong winds in the in the southern portions of state, the country’s meteorological service said.
The Category 1 hurricane had winds reaching 85 miles per hour shortly before making landfall in the town of Todos Santos, about 47 miles north of the resort city of Cabo San Lucas.
Norma approached the Baja California peninsula late Friday — bringing strong winds and some rain overnight — and was forecast to move toward the western state of Sinaloa on Saturday afternoon, Mexican officials said. It will weaken in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Mudslides, powerful winds, heavy rain and flooding were still forecast for the southern part of Baja California Sur, which was predicted to get the worst effects of the storm through the weekend as it moved inland. Its slow movement could cause greater damage, the hurricane center and Mexican officials said.
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 at a news conference on Saturday morning that “this day will be very important for the state,” as officials and rescue crews prepared for a dangerous storm that was expected to move across parts of the state by the afternoon.
The strong winds and rain caused power outages overnight in some neighborhoods. 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 or braced for the powerful storm.
Preparations for potentially dangerous effects from the storm were already underway 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 threatening conditions.
Officials had also closed the ports of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas,. Hotel and resort workers were also 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, was 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.
Though it made landfall on Saturday as a Category 1 storm, wind speeds of 130 miles per hour had pushed Norma 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 coast 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.
A storm watch was also in place for Las Islas Marías, an archipelago off the western coast of Mexico. Forecasters warned that towns elsewhere in Baja California Sur and along the west coast of mainland Mexico should monitor the progress of the storm.
Skies were already cloudy and the wind had picked up slightly in Cabo San Lucas on Thursday, said Edwin Rodriguez, an employee at the Cabo Inn Hotel, where guests typically have been housed on the second floor when storms bring heavy rain.
Norma is the 14th named storm to form in the eastern Pacific so far in 2023, compared with 19 named storms in 2022.