(AFP) – Oct 11, 2008
LA PAZ, Mexico (AFP) — Hurricane Norbert struck Mexico's northwest Pacific coast Saturday, ripping off roofs, knocking down trees and leaving more than 20,000 homes without electricity, local authorities said.
Norbert, a Category Two hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, made landfall at Puerto Cortes, on the Baja California peninsula around 1630 GMT, Mexico's National Weather Service said.
Early assessments showed only material damage.
"The entire area is being affected by hurricane strength" winds and downpours, a National Weather Service forecaster said by phone.
The storm was moving towards the northwest at 24 kilometers per hour (15 miles per hour) with sustained winds of 165 km/h (103 mph) the weather service said in its latest report, adding that it was spawning four-meter (13-feet) waves.
"We expect Norbert to move over the Baja California Sur peninsula later Saturday before it enters the Gulf of California and then hits Sonora state" in mainland Mexico, the forecaster added.
Some 2,850 people were housed in temporary shelters.
Forty percent of homes were totally or partially damaged on the islands of Margarita and Magdalena, mainly having lost their roofs, said a report from state protection services.
La Paz international airport suspended its activities at midday Saturday, but the tourist resort of Los Cabos remained open.
Hotel reservations were down by around 40 percent mainly in Los Cabos and Loreto, local tourism officials said.
At 2100 GMT the eye of Norbert was located about 100 kilometers (65 miles) south-southeast of Loreto, Mexico and emerging over the narrow peninsula, the US-based National Hurricane Center reported.
Norbert "is expected to make landfall along the coast of mainland Mexico ... tonight," the NHC said.
Norbert is not expected to strengthen significantly, and is forecast to weaken once it moves into northwestern Mexico on a path to Arizona, the NHC said.
The hurricane however is expected to dump up to 15 centimeters (six inches) of rain over the peninsula and portions of northwestern Mexico, "with possible isolated amounts of 10 inches (25 centimeters)," the NHC said.
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