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Now a tropical storm, Odile drenches Baja after slamming Mexican resorts

By Ed Payne and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
After Hurricane Odile destroyed houses in Los Cabos, Mexico, people sift through what's left on Monday, September 15. A day earlier, the storm made landfall at the southernmost tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. After Hurricane Odile destroyed houses in Los Cabos, Mexico, people sift through what's left on Monday, September 15. A day earlier, the storm made landfall at the southernmost tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
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Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Odile weakens to a tropical storm, forecasters say
  • As a hurricane, Odile hit the southern tip of Baja California Sur late Sunday
  • An American mother on maternity leave holes up with her newborn in a hotel
  • Forecasters warn of destructive waves and life-threatening floods

(CNN) -- The once-powerful Hurricane Odile weakened to a tropical storm as it worked its way across the Baja California peninsula early Tuesday.

Still packing 65 mph winds, the storm lashed the region with torrential rains and the potential for flash flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center. Rainfall amounts of 6-12 inches are forecast, with isolated amounts of up to 18 inches.

Odile left a mess in its wake -- snapped palm trees, washed out roads and tapped tourists trapped at Mexican resorts.

The storm left stunned residents and tourists in its wake.

Sarah McKinney, who was in Cabo San Lucas on maternity leave from her job in Arkansas when the then-Category 3 storm hit with 125 mph winds Sunday night, tweeted photos of the wreckage Monday: the collapsed roof of a restaurant, a shuttle van flipped over, a resort's swimming pool pushed into the ocean.

Every car she walked by after the storm had broken windows, she wrote. The normally pristine marina in the idyllic resort town was littered with debris.

"2 days ago we walked along the marina happy with not a care in the world," she said. "Today I'm shocked and saddened."

Bachelorette party missing in Cabo
Hurricane Odile slams Baja Calfornia
Hurricane Odile hits Baja Peninsula

The powerful storm caused severe damage at the airport in Los Cabos, Mexico's national director of civil protection said, according to CNN affiliate FOROtv.

Early Tuesday the storm was about 25 miles (40 km) west-northwest of Santa Rosalina, Mexico, packing winds of 65 mph (100 kph) as it headed northwest. It was expected to continue to weaken, becoming a tropical depression on Wednesday, forecasters said.

On Sunday, gales from Odile whipped torrents of rain ashore, chasing visitors in popular tourist destinations into close quarters. Streets in Cabo San Lucas were drenched. Palm trees were knocked over, and outdoor markets were trashed.

Raul Frias, from Mexico City, was at Club Regina in Cabo when he tweeted that he felt a "great vibration" in a shelter and that something "big was coming down."

McKinney and her newborn daughter, Madison, had already evacuated out of harm's way from their first hotel to a second one. But even there, the room roared like a wind tunnel as Odile passed over.

At least 15,000 tourists were sharing McKinney's experience in Cabo, Mexican civil defense official Luis Felipe Puente said.

She piled up her belongings in the bathtub to protect them from the water seeping through the door to her room. She dammed it up with a mattress, but it still came in about an inch deep.

"I've cleared the beds and linen closets and have my daughter and I held up in the bathroom," she told CNN.

Then the winds subsided. Madison fell asleep.

"The pressure was horrific, but now it is eerily calm -- just how people describe when the eye passes over," she said.

But then the winds smacked the hotel again, and McKinney headed back into the bathroom.

"The backhalf is definitely worse," she posted to Twitter. "More debris and stronger winds and rain. Bedroom is getting soaked from water seeping in."

Odile was earlier predicted to bring possibly life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, forecasters said Sunday.

Ports and beaches have been closed, and school classes and celebrations for Mexico's Independence Day were canceled in Baja California Sur state. Independence Day is Tuesday.

CNNMexico.com, and CNN's Ben Brumfield, Ashley Fantz, Nelson Quiñones, Nick Parker and Brian Walker contributed to this report.

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