Hurricane Nora lashes Baja California
September 24, 1997
Web posted at: 8:04 a.m. EDT (0804 GMT)
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (CNN) -- High winds wrenched straw
roofs off homes and torrential rains stranded hundreds of
people on flooded highways as Hurricane Nora churned toward
southern Baja California on Tuesday.
Fierce squalls from Nora blew through the rocky resort town
of Cabo San Lucas, and waves up to 14 feet high kept
frightened tourists huddled in their hotels on the exposed
tip of the Baja peninsula.
|Time||5 a.m. EDT |
|Location||About 340 miles (550 km) W-SW of Punta Eugenia, on the West coast of Baja California|
|Lat./Lon.||22.9 N latitude, 114.7 W longitude|
|Winds||near 85 mph (140 kph) with higher gusts|
|Speed||N-NW near 13 mph (20 kph)|
|Current radar image Current satellite image|
As its fallout thrashed the coastline, the hurricane itself
brooded off the coast about 290 miles (465 km) west-southwest
Weather officials said the storm, one of the most powerful of
the hurricane season, could slam into northern Baja
California as early as Wednesday.
Although the storm weakened slightly Tuesday, it was still
powerful enough to batter Pacific Coast resort towns in the
central and southern portions of the peninsula with heavy
rain, high waves and strong winds.
No deaths were reported.
Heavy rain seen for Southwest U.S.
Hurricane-force winds extended up to 85 miles (140 km) from
the storm's center. Tropical storm-force winds extended up to
200 miles (325 km).
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the lower half of
the 800-mile-long (1,280 km) peninsula, and a hurricane watch
was posted for the middle third of the peninsula.
Forecasters expect the eye of the storm to hit somewhere on
the upper half of the peninsula. They say Nora eventually
could bring heavy rainfall to the Southwest U.S., primarily
east of California.
But California, too, is at risk. The state, which was
threatened earlier this month by Hurricane Linda, has never
been hit by a hurricane.
If Nora moves over the U.S. desert Southwest, the biggest
danger from the hurricane will be the rain.
"We are concerned with the moisture associated with this
hurricane, flash flooding and the problems associated with
that," said Max Mayfield of the U.S. National Hurricane
Arizona readies for floodwaters
Southern California was concerned with moisture back in 1983,
when a big chunk of the Santa Monica Pier crashed into the
water. And that was no hurricane, just a hard rain on a
desert terrain -- the kind of terrain that can't soak up much
But the water has to go somewhere. In Arizona, residents are
readying for rain, shoring up drainage ditches, firing up
warning systems and making sure the Red Cross is ready to
While a Pacific hurricane this close to the West Coast is not
the norm, it's not unheard of, either.
"Back in 1976, there was a Hurricane Kathleen that brought a
lot of moisture to the Southwest," Mayfield said.
El Nino partly to blame
If Hurricane Nora does hit the western United States, some
experts say El Nino could be partly to blame, because warmer
waters may have allowed it to move farther north than it
might have ordinarily.
The El Nino phenomenon, which has warmed waters off Peru and
Ecuador and upset global weather patterns, has caused an
unprecedented increase this year in the number of hurricanes
and tropical storms in the Pacific.
After powering up from southern Mexico, Nora lost some of its
punch Tuesday but it still packed maximum sustained winds
near 90 mph (150 kph) with higher gusts, the U.S. National
Weather Service said. It was moving north-northwestward at
about 10 mph (18 kph).
A gradual turn to the north is expected Tuesday night.
Hundreds evacuated to shelters
According to Mexican state news agency Notimex, some 500
people from around Cabo San Lucas and La Paz in Baja
California were moved to emergency shelters as a
In the Sonora town of Guaymas, some 45 fishermen were
evacuated from a tiny seaside camp, Notimex said.
Many residents of the southern peninsula region were left
without drinking water and phone lines, and some were made
homeless as the roofs of their fragile homes caved in.
"Prepare yourselves. Make sure you have drinking water and a
radio or television at hand. Nora could hit land in the next
24 hours," Mexican weather forecaster Enrique Albores told
residents and tourists in Baja California.
On Monday, Nora pummeled Mexico's mainland Pacific coastline
to the south, destroying local businesses and coastal homes.
While there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries,
Televisa network said at least 40 people were rescued from
the grip of crashing waves along Pacific beaches.
Correspondent Anne McDermott and Reuters contributed to this report.