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Bard
10-01-2005, 12:40 PM
Updated: 01:03 PM EDT
Hurricane Otis Sparks Flooding in Western Mexico
By JORGE BARRERA, AP

http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20051001044009990006

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (Oct. 1) -- About 1,000 people fled their homes in low-lying areas and stiff rains sparked flooding along main streets of this resort city Saturday, as slow-moving Hurricane Otis picked up strength in the Pacific.

AP
Juan Guzman looks at the beach as Hurricane Otis aproaches Friday near San Jose del Cabo, Mexico.

Packing 100 mph winds, the storm was crawling northwest, away from Cabo San Lucas and the nearby resort city of Los Cabos.

Forecasters expected it eventually to begin turning back toward western Mexico, and come ashore along a sparsely populated stretch of desert far north of here, as early as Sunday evening, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Periods of strong winds and heavy rains were mixed with mostly sunny skies over Cabo San Lucas, and many residents remained calm, avoiding panic buying with the knowledge that Otis was moving further out to sea.

Things were largely normal around the local hotel zones, but Mayor Luis Armando Diaz led voluntary evacuations that removed families on the city's poor outskirts from homes, many of which were little more than wood and metal shacks.

About 130 people, many impoverished residents who work as part of the tourist-service industry, gathered at a school house, and more than a dozen shelters were open to accommodate evacuees.

Mexico declared a state of emergency to help cope with heavy rains in five communities, including Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos and another well-known tourist destination, Loreto, about four hours north of here by car.

A hurricane warning was in effect for much of the peninsula's Pacific Coast, from Agua Blanca north to Puerto San Andresito and officials issued a tropical storm watch further northward.

The area likely to be hit the hardest by Otis was central Baja California, a vast stretch of sun-scorched territory where few people live. Extended forecasts, however, showed the storm weakening as it moved across the peninsula and bringing rains to parts of western Texas and southern Arizona by early next week.

Otis was the 15th Pacific storm of the season. Unlike powerful Atlantic storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Pacific hurricanes tend to do less damage because they make landfall less-frequently.

Also on Saturday, the season's 20th tropical depression formed in the western Caribbean Sea, prompting Mexico to issue tropical storm warnings for the Yucatan Peninsula.

NOAA
A satellite view of Hurricane Otis is shown at 6 a.m. EDT.

The depression was located about 125 miles east-southeast of Tulum, Mexico, and about 110 miles southeast of Cozumel, according to the U.S. hurricane center.

The system had sustained winds of 30 mph, and was moving to the west-northwest. It could become a named tropical storm, with winds above 39 mph, before it makes its expected landfall on the eastern Yucatan later Saturday or Sunday.

Rainfall accumulations from 5 to 10 inches over the Yucatan and northern Belize were expected, forecasters said.

A tropical storm warning was issued in the Yucatan from Punta Gruesa north to Cabo Catoche, while a tropical storm watch was issued from Cabo Catoche west to Campeche.


10/01/05 12:38 EDT