Norma downgraded to a tropical storm in Mexico as Hurricane Tammy leaves Barbuda
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Norma was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday as it moved into mainland Mexico, while Hurricane Tammy left the Caribbean island of Barbuda with minor damage.
Once a Category 4 hurricane, Norma came ashore Saturday as a Category 1 near the Pacific resort of Los Cabos at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Tens of thousands were left without power there before Tammy made landfall hours later at the same strength.
Norma’s winds, although weakened, continue to cause damage as the storm moves northeast, crossing the Gulf of California toward the Mexico mainland in the Sinaloa state. Schools there will be closed on Monday and 120 shelters were opened, the government said in its official social media.
T he U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its latest report that Norma was about 120 miles (195 kilometers) west of Culiacan, and about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south-southwest of Los Mochis. The storm is moving northeastward across the Gulf of California with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kmp).
The NHC expects that heavy rains from Norma will continue impacting Sinaloa at least until Monday, and also some parts of the southern area of Baja California. It warned of flooding and mudslides.
In Los Cabos, fallen trees blocked some streets. But with no major damage, tourists began to emerge, some with the intention of leaving.
“They told us that the air terminal is now open and we want to return to San Diego, since the danger of the hurricane is over,” said American Henry Brown while waiting for a cab to take him and his wife to the San Jose del Cabo airport, which resumed operations in the morning.
Brown acknowledged that the wind was very strong Saturday but said they had no major problems because they stayed sheltered in the hotel.
Others, like American Noah Johnson and his family, went for a walk to see how the beach had been left but were willing to continue their vacation, which ends on Tuesday, even though they regretted that many restaurants and other businesses remained closed.
But to the south, there was no flying out of La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. It was hit with so much rain that the airport remained closed. Streams of water with logs, dirt and garbage crossed many of the highways so many entrances to the city were blocked. Elements of the security forces made rounds looking for people in need of help.
In the city’s bay, 400 people remained on a ship that was transporting them from Sinaloa to Baja California Sur and was caught in the storm. They have not been able to get off the ferry because the port is still closed, said Santiago Jorge Morgado, commander of the Fourth Naval Region in La Paz.
As of midday Sunday, Baja California Sur authorities had not reported any fatalities and only mentioned that an Argentinean tourist was injured. The main damage was to boats, three of which sank, said Adm. Morgado.
The Mexican navy said it has 5.000 marines deployed to attend the states affected by Norma with ships, helicopters, trucks, food, water and first aid.
Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda escaped with no reported injuries from Hurricane Tammy. A late and sudden shift spared the mainland from a direct hit, but left the sister island in line for the system’s full force during the late night hours on Saturday.
“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no significant damage. At least we got some rain. It may not be a lot but much needed rain,” a relieved Prime Minister Gaston Browne told The Associated Press.
The hurricane made landfall on the 62-square-mile island at approximately 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, bringing heavy rain and winds as high as 92 mph. The storm knocked down some power lines, triggered an island wide blackout and caused minor damage to a few homes. However, no major infrastructural damage was reported.
At least two families had to be evacuated by a local rescue team, Barbuda’s disaster coordinator Tessa Webber told The Associated Press.
Tammy hit as the memory and trauma of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that razed the island in 2017, remained foremost in the minds of Barbudans.
Mainland Antigua fared much better, as only a few broken branches and broken utility lines were reported.
Acting electricity manager for the country’s lone utility company, Lyndon Francis, could not yet put a timeline on restoration work in Barbuda and the few communities in Antigua that lost power during the storm. Crews were out assessing the damage, he said.
Government offices, banks and most non-retail businesses had closed early on Friday to allow staff to prepare. Residents rushed to stock up on necessities, causing gridlock throughout St John’s and near popular shopping centers and supermarkets.
By IGNACIO MARTÍNEZ and FERNANDO LLANO Associated Press
Associated Press writer Anika Kentish in St. John’s, Antigua, contributed to this report.