Local News

Storm Bypasses Southern Tip of Baja California

Posted September 24, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— After battering tourist towns at the tip of Baja California, Hurricane Nora swirled today toward landfall along the central peninsula - and an eventual soaking of America's Southwest.

Mexican authorities declared a hurricane watch for a 350-mile swath of Baja and a coastal flood warning for much of the northern mainland.

The hurricane, well at sea, veered past Cabo San Lucas at the base of the peninsula early today, but the damage from the storm's outer squalls boded badly for those in its path.

The U.S. Hurricane Center warned that the storm, which would probably be weakened by crossing the peninsula, likely would dump heavy rains later in the week on the southwestern United States.

At 8 a.m. EDT, Nora's eye was about 325 miles south of Punta Eugenia, a Pacific coast point near the center of the Baja peninsula, the Hurricane Center said.

Moving north-northwest at 13 mph with sustained winds of 85 mph, it was expected to veer more to the north and onto land. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 85 miles from the eye, and tropical storm-force winds outward up to 200 miles.

On Tuesday, earthmovers plowed the streets of Cabo San Lucas, removing the mud that the storm had driven through the tourist resort in wide rivers, and both roads leading north were washed out.

Near the hamlet of Migrino, 20 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific coast, a muddy river covered 200 yards of road.

Dozens of people gathered to watch tractors and a military Humvee try to pull out the trucks and cars that had attempted - and failed - to make it across.

A few families waded across the waist-deep floodwaters, but not many motorists were willing to give it a shot.

Miguel Angel Dominguez, 23, had been driving his gasoline tanker truck toward La Paz on Monday morning when the squall hit. He was still there Tuesday afternoon, sitting on a spare tire and waiting.

``I'll wait until tomorrow if I have to,'' he said. ``I have to get through.''

Mitch Christensen a 36-year-old surfer from Dana Point, Calif., was driving up from Cabo San Lucas ``to check out the waves'' at Todos Santos, a popular surfing area further north. But there was no way his rented Volkswagen Beetle was going to make it.

The storm had ruined his surfing plans since his arrival Sunday night, he said. ``It was just too maxed out,'' he said of the waves. ``It was out of control.''

Then again, in disaster he also saw possibility. ``I'll be in the water tomorrow,'' he said. ``I've surfed hurricane surf before. It's kind of what I live for. It's a major rush.''

Martin Higuera, 31, was driving to La Paz to make sure elderly relatives had made it through the storm. But he too was stopped by the river. So he sat on a hillside with his brother and his 11-month-old daughter, Janette, and waited with a six-pack of beer.

``They say they're going to build a bridge here. When, I don't know,'' he said, giving Janette a swig of beer. She drank dutifully and stared off into space.

By NIKO PRICE,Associated Press Writer Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.