- Hurricane Odile is now a Category 3 storm
- The storm is heading toward Mexico's Baja California peninsula
- Forecasters warn of destructive waves and life-threatening floods
Hurricane Odile churned toward Mexico's Baja California peninsula on Sunday, threatening to slam the popular tourist destination with powerful winds and heavy rains.
Forecasters warned that the Category 3 storm could strengthen overnight.
As of 8 p.m. ET Sunday, Odile was about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of the southern tip of the peninsula, with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph), the National Hurricane Center said.
Hurricane warnings are in effect from Punta Abreojos to San Evaristo on the east coast of the Baja peninsula.
A dangerous storm surge is expected to bring major flooding and "large and destructive waves" to Mexico's Pacific Coast, the center said. Heavy rainfall could also cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, forecasters said.
Ports and beaches have been closed, and school classes and celebrations for Mexico's Independence Day were canceled in Mexico's Baja California Sur state. Mexican Independence Day is Tuesday, September 16.
After forecasters downgraded the storm to a Category 3 Sunday afternoon, Baja California Sur Gov. Marcos Covarrubias said authorities would remain vigilant.
"It is time to evacuate high-risk areas to guarantee well-being. We reiterate that even though it is not raining it is essential to safeguard life," Covarrubias said in a Facebook post. "The most important thing is not to expose ourselves."
The Hurricane Center's public advisory said the eye of the storm is expected to move northwest over the next two days.