Troy - Press Archive - Flood Threat as Ignacio Moves Up Mexico Baja Coast

Source: Reuters
26 August 2003
Flood Threat as Ignacio Moves Up Mexico Baja Coast
Tue August 26, 2003 01:42 PM ET
By Manuel Carrillo

LOS CABOS, Mexico (Reuters) - Hurricane Ignacio was downgraded to a
tropical storm overnight but was still dumping rain on Mexico's arid Baja
California peninsula on Tuesday, raising the threat of mudslides as
rivers overflowed.

In the state capital, La Paz, on the eastern coast of the peninsula, about
2,000 evacuated residents remained in shelters set up in schools, said
Juan Ochoa of Mexico's civil protection agency for the state of Baja California

"Things have calmed down. There are cables, pylons and trees down in the
streets, but nothing more," said Rodolfo Peralta, receptionist at the Hotel
La Perla in La Paz. "You can't swim yet, but we expect everything to be
normal in three or four days," he added.

In Los Cabos, residents evacuated to shelters began to return home, but
the mayor's office said drinking water would be rationed for the next few
days as the rains had affected five of the eight wells supplying drinking
water to the golf and fishing resort.

On Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported the storm was
inching northwest at a snail's pace, packing maximum sustained winds of
50 mph.

The center said heavy rain that could cause life-threatening flash floods
and mudslides was still likely in parts of the peninsula but that storm-surge
flooding and large waves along the coast would gradually subside.

A Reuters reporter said La Paz had light rain and wind and the sea was
muddy brown with silt from rivers.

Ignacio sprang from nowhere over the weekend. In less than 24 hours it
developed from a weak tropical storm to a hurricane and headed for the
Sea of Cortes, between the Baja California peninsula and the Mexican

After reaching its peak as a Category 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale of
1 to 5 on Sunday with sustained winds of 105 mph, it was downgraded to a
tropical storm early on Tuesday. A tropical storm has maximum sustained
winds of 39 to 73 mph.

"We still have tourists here, they didn't leave because of (the) hurricane,"
said Maria Jesus Arroyo at the Hotel la Posada de Engelbert outside La Paz,
a fishing city of 170,000 people popular with yachting enthusiasts.

In the past two days, the main highways linking Los Cabos at the western
tip of the peninsula to La Paz were closed after they were turned into rivers
by the deluge.

Television images showed cars and pickup trucks stranded in flooded rural
coastal roads, with locals, knee-deep in water, using machetes to hack
branches off fallen trees.

Ochoa said a passage had been cleared to enable limited traffic between
La Paz and Los Cabos.


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