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Hurricane Nora to hit Baja Thursday morning

Nora September 25, 1997
Web posted at: 5:55 a.m. EST (1055 GMT)

PUNTA EUGENIA, Mexico (CNN) -- Hurricane Nora, gaining speed and packing 85 mph winds and heavy rains, is poised to hit the coast of Mexico's Baja California Thursday morning.

Desert areas of Arizona and California were bracing for possible flash flooding if the storm makes its expected northward march across Baja, up the Gulf of California and into the southwestern United States.

Wednesday evening, the eye of the storm was nearing Punta Eugenia, heading north at more than 15 miles per hour (24 kph). Forecasters expect the hurricane's center to make landfall between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. PDT Friday.

Hurricane Nora
Time2 a.m. PDT (0900 GMT)
LocationAbout 50 miles (80 km) N of Punta Eugenia, on the West coast of Baja California
Lat./Lon.28.4 N latitude, 114.8 W longitude

A L S O :

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In Baja California Sur, the southern half of the peninsula that has been waterlogged by storms from Nora since Monday, emergency workers moved hundreds of Mexicans living in exposed fishing communities into shelters.

filling sandbags

Mexican officials posted hurricane warnings along much of the northern two-thirds of Baja's Pacific coast. Tropical storm warnings were posted for most of the southern two-thirds of the coast.

The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it crosses the peninsula and heads north up the Gulf of California.

Storm warnings also have been posted along Baja's Gulf of California coast and the west coast of the Mexican mainland. Officials in Mexicali were warning people to stay in their homes Thursday evening, when the storm is expected to reach the city.

The biggest threat from Nora could be the up to five inches of rain it might bring into these desert areas, where just two inches can trigger destructive flash floods.

The center of the storm was expected to enter the United States late Thursday between Yuma, Arizona, and El Centro, California.

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull met with state officials Wednesday to activate an emergency response center.

"I don't want the people of Arizona frightened," Hull said. "But on the other hand, we want people safe. We want people to be prepared."

In Yuma, where tropical storms have triggered flooding four times since 1954, "people are starting to get worried, edgy," said Cristina Herrera, the city's acting director of emergency management.

"The biggest threat of course is flash flooding. This is a very wet storm, it's going to drop a lot of rain," said Josh McDowell of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

In El Centro, inmates at the Imperial County jail filled sandbags, preparing for possible flooding. Much of the Imperial Valley lies below sea level, making it especially susceptible to flooding.

The only good news Nora brought was for surfers, who were enjoying big waves off the San Diego coast.

The Pacific coast of northern Mexico and California have been hit by unusual hurricane activity this year because of the El Nino phenomenon, which has warmed waters off Peru and Ecuador and upset global weather patterns.

Correspondent Jennifer Auther and Reuters contributed to this report.


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