Powerful Hurricane Slams Into Mexican Tourist Area

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (CBS News/CBS Houston/AP) — Residents and tourists hunkered down in shelters and hotel conference rooms overnight as a powerful and sprawling Hurricane Odile made landfall on the southern Baja California peninsula in Mexico.

The area is home to gleaming mega resorts, tiny fishing communities and low-lying neighborhoods of flimsy homes. Forecasters predicted a dangerous storm surge with large waves as well as drenching rains capable of causing landslides and flash floods.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said satellite imagery indicates Odile’s center made landfall at about 9:45 p.m. PDT near Cabo San Lucas.

As of 11 p.m. PDT, Odile had sustained winds of 120 mph, but had higher gusts. It was some 15 miles north-northwest of the southern tip of Baja California (Mexico) and was moving north-northwest at 17 mph. A gradual weakening was forecast over the next two days.

As howling winds whipped palm trees amid pelting rain outside, people bedded down and used magazines to fan themselves in crowded, stuffy safe rooms. Some did crossword puzzles or listened to iPhones. In one hotel near San Jose del Cabo, power went out not long after nightfall, and a generator was keeping minimal lights on.

Denise Mellor, a traveler from Orange County, California, was frustrated about a lack of information about the storm and said she was learning more from her daughter back home than from hotel workers.

“It’s a little bit (unsettling) that we don’t have a choice but to sit in here and hope for the best,” Mellor said. “So that makes me a little bit scared.”

Mexican authorities evacuated coastal areas and readied shelters for up to 30,000 people.

“We are going to be hit, do not risk your life,” warned Marcos Covarrubias, governor of Baja California Sur.

After reaching Category 4 strength on Sunday, Odile weakened some to Category 3 but was still a major storm. The U.S. hurricane center warned of possible coastal flooding and rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated amounts up to 15 inches.

On Sunday, police with megaphones walked through vulnerable areas in Cabo San Lucas urging people to evacuate.

“I’m leaving. It’s very dangerous here,” said Felipa Flores, clutching a plastic bag with a few belongings as she took her two small children from her neighborhood of El Caribe to a storm shelter. “Later on, we’re going to be cut off and my house of wood and laminated cardboard won’t stand up to much.”

At least 22 airline flights were canceled. Some tourists camped out at the Los Cabos international airport hoping to get out before the storm, but the facility shut down all air operations late in the afternoon.

Luis Felipe Puente, national coordinator for Mexico’s civil protection agency, said 164 shelters had been prepared for as many as 30,000 people in Baja California Sur.

A hurricane warning was in effect from Punta Abreojos to Loreto. Mexican authorities declared a maximum alert for areas in or near Odile’s path, and ports in Baja California were ordered closed.

In the central Atlantic, Hurricane Edouard had sustained winds near 85 mph, although it was forecast to remain far out at sea and pose no threat to land.

The U.S. hurricane center said Edouard’s center was 835 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and was moving northwest at 15 mph.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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