Baja California Peninsula Ravaged by Hurricane Odile

Mexican authorities declare maximum alert due to hurricane OdileMuch of the Baja California Peninsula has been ravaged by hurricane Odile, causing damage by heavy rains and powerful winds that effected both locals and tourists. Although the extent of the damage is not yet known, it is clear that facades, hotel lobbies, and homes sustained devastation. Windows at the Westin Hotel shattered and streets are filled with debris and broken glass.

As reported by Tribuna de los Cabos, a local newspaper, flying glass caused injury to numerous people, traffic signals and power lines were down throughout the city, and at Cascadas resort located on Medano Beach, a big fire broke out.

According to experts, maximum sustained winds of this Category 4 turned Category 3 hurricane reached 115 miles per hour as the storm passed over the peninsula, covering approximately 143 miles to the east-southeast of Cabo San Lazaro and reaching speeds over 205 miles per hour at the center of the storm.

To avoid being injured by Oldine, locals and tourists took refuge in hotel conference rooms and shelters. In one hotel close to San Jose del Cabo, residents moved into a crowded basement storage area after they realized their makeshift shelter would not suffice.

The area hit by Odile is comprised mainly of low-lying neighborhoods with poorly constructed homes, small fishing communities, and even lavish resorts. Prior to Odile hitting, forecasters send out warnings that a storm surge consisting of large waves and pelting rain was coming but also that the storm had potential of causing massive flash floods and landslides.

Although Mexican authorities evacuated along the coastline and prepared 164 shelters to accommodate up to 30,000 people, some tourists were frustrated with a lack of information pertaining to the storm. One particular tourist stated she found out about the impending storm from her daughter back home opposed to workers at the hotel where she was staying.

Several warnings were initiated to include one by the United States Marine Corp, one given by the Governor of Baja California Sur, Marco Covarrubias, who told people the area was going to be hit hard and for people not to risk their lives, and another by United States Hurricane Center about possible coastal flooding due to rainfall of five to over nine inches, with some isolated areas receiving close to 15 inches.

Even though Odile weakened from a Category 4 to Category 3, it was still major. Because of Odile, a minimum of 22 airline flights were cancelled, leaving some travelers camped out at the international airport hoping the storm would not be as bad as predicted but by late afternoon, the facility was shut down.

Today, another hurricane is making its presence known. Hurricane Edouard in the central Atlantic is now categorized as a Category 2 storm but being so far out at sea, there is no current threat to land although experts are keeping a close eye on this developing storm.

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