Hurricane Igor pelts eastern Canada with heavy rains; new storm heading toward Mexico

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland (AP) — Hurricane Igor pelted eastern Canada with heavy rain Tuesday, flooding communities, washing out roads and stranding some residents in their homes. In the Pacific, a mild tropical storm formed and was expected to cross the Mexican resort area of Baja California later in the day.

Forecasters issued a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch for Igor on the coast of Newfoundland, on Canada's eastern coast.

"This is not your normal heavy rainfall flooding. It's having a major impact," said Chris Fogarty, of the Canadian Hurricane Centre. He said more than 200 millimeters (8 inches) of rain have already fallen in some regions in the past few hours.

Dennis Shea of the province's Emergency and Fire Services office said several communities have been cut off by high water and in some cases boats have been used to rescue people from their own homes. At least three towns, Clarenville, Marystown and Terrenceville, declared states of emergency because of localized flooding that made roads impassable.

There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities.

The Pacific tropical storm, Georgette, had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph (65 kph), but was expected to weaken as it moves over the Baja California peninsula later Tuesday. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Georgette was expected to dissipate by early Thursday.

Georgette was located about 30 miles (45 kilometers) south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on Tuesday morning and was moving north-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph). A tropical storm warning was issued for southern Baja California.

Along eastern Canada, Igor was transforming to a post-tropical storm, which has a different structure from a hurricane but still packs the same punch, Fogarty said.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Wayne Edgecombe said heavy rains that flooded a key bridge in southern Newfoundland have left the Burin Peninsula's 20,000 residents cut off from the rest of the province. Edgecombe said roads all over the peninsula have been washed out or submerged, but so far there have been no major crises.

About 20,000 people live on the Burin Peninsula.

Igor doggedly stayed just above hurricane strength, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph). On Tuesday, the storm center was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) south-southwest of Cape Race in Newfoundland and moving to the northeast near 53 mph (85 kph), the Canadian Hurricane Centre said.

Schools have been closed and some flights at the St. John's International Airport have been delayed or canceled. The Canadian company Husky Energy evacuated workers from two semi-submersible drilling rigs working the White Rose offshore oil field, spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said.

"We're as ready as we possibly can be ready," said Dennis O'Keefe, the mayor of St. John's, Newfoundland.

Igor left behind power outages, grounded boats and downed trees in Bermuda and kicked up dangerous surf on the U.S. Atlantic coast. After brushing past Bermuda, which escaped major damage, Igor veered away from the United States, but forecasters said it could still cause high surf and dangerous rip currents along U.S. beaches.

A 21-year-old man died while surfing in the storm-churned waves off Surf City, North Carolina, where he was pulled from the water Sunday afternoon. Last week, high surf kicked up by Igor swept two people out to sea in the Caribbean — one in Puerto Rico and another in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Across Los Cabos — a string of Mexican resort towns at the tip of Baja California — boat owners scrambled to tie down yachts, while restaurant workers hauled in chairs and tables ahead of Georgette's arrival. Tourists canceled fishing trips at the last minute and hunkered down inside luxury hotels for board games and spa sessions.

"I had two foreign tourists booked to go fishing today, but the port closed," said boat operator Jose Cesena.

One local family had to be rescued overnight from a flooded home, said Gregorio Perez, a local civil protection officer. Civil Protection Director Francisco Cota Marquez said shelters were being prepared but there were no evacuations yet.

Only light rain fell Tuesday morning, but winds kicked up 6-foot (2-meter) waves.

Meanwhile far out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lisa formed early Tuesday with winds near 45 mph (75 kph). The storm was located about 530 miles (850 kilometers) west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa.


Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto and Ignacio Martinez in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico contributed to this report.