Hurricane Newton slams into Mexico's Los Cabos resorts

Posted at 4:19 AM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 17:39:14-04

Hurricane Newton shattered windows, downed trees and knocked out power in parts of the twin resorts of Los Cabos on Tuesday, but residents were spared the kind of extensive damage seen two years ago when they were walloped by a stronger storm.

Newton made landfall at the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula in the morning as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph (150 kph), pelting the area with torrential rain as residents hunkered down in their homes and tourists huddled in hotels.

RELATED: Hurricane Newton could bring heavy rain to parts of Arizona

Palm trees were toppled along Cabo San Lucas' coastal boulevard and some windows were broken. But there was calm in the city as firefighters cleaned refuse from the streets during the day.

"There are only minor damages -- fallen branches, some fallen banners, some cables. ... In general, no victims," army Col. Enrique Rangel said.

Roberto Dominguez, a customer relations worker at the Fairfield Marriot, said the hotel's windows and balconies had been sufficiently protected from the storm and guests were fine, although cellphone and internet services had been knocked out.

"At this moment there are no reports of people killed or missing due to Hurricane Newton," said Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico's civil defense agency.

In 2014, Los Cabos suffered heavy damage to homes, shops and hotels when it was hammered by Hurricane Odile, which hit land as a Category 3 storm.

After making landfall Newton moved inland and northward up the narrow peninsula. Its center was about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south-southwest of Loreto by midafternoon and it was moving northeast at around 18 mph (30 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

Mexico posted hurricane warnings for parts of the peninsula and also a stretch of the mainland coast across the Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez. The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Newton could leave the peninsula and enter the gulf during the night.

Newton was forecast to dump 8 to 12 inches of rain on Baja California Sur state with isolated maximums up to 18 inches, and heavy rains were also expected for five other states. Newton could reach the U.S. border at Arizona as a tropical storm at midday Wednesday, forecasters said.

The hurricane center said the storm could drop 1 to 3 inches of rain over parts of Arizona and New Mexico through Thursday, threatening flash floods and landslides.

About 14,000 tourists had remained in Los Cabos as of Monday night as the storm approached and airlines cancelled flights out, said Genaro Ruiz, the state tourism secretary.

Officials evacuated low-lying areas and opened 18 shelters at schools in Los Cabos and 38 more in other parts of the state, while warning people against panic buying.

Los Cabos police were stationed at shopping malls to guard against the kind of looting that occurred after Hurricane Odile.