CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico – Authorities in the southern portion of Mexico's Baja California peninsula ordered schools closed and set up emergency shelters as Hurricane Newton gained strength while bearing down on the twin resorts of Los Cabos for a predicted arrival Tuesday morning.
Boat owners pulled fishing craft in from the water and business owners nailed boards and sheets of plywood over windows in Cabo San Lucas, the resort that was hammered by Category 3 Hurricane Odile in 2014. Officials warned that Newton might cause torrential rainfalls.
About 14,000 tourists remained in Los Cabos as of Monday night as airlines cancelled flights out as the storm approached, said Genaro Ruiz, the state tourism secretary. Ruiz said tourists had been advised to remain in their hotels.
"The most important thing is to stay at home," said Carlos Godinez, a civil defense official for Baja California Sur state. "If there is nothing that requires you to be outside, take shelter with your family."
Newton's maximum sustained winds increased to 90 mph (150 kph) by Monday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The Category 1 storm was centered about 125 miles (200 kilometers) south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo and was moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph) on a forecast path that would bring it near or over the area Tuesday morning.
Officials began evacuating residents from low-lying areas and opened 18 shelters at schools in the two resorts and 38 more in other parts of the state, while warning people against panic buying.
"There is no need for mass buying," Los Cabos Mayor Arturo de la Rosa Escalante said. "There is enough food and fuel for the next 20 days."
Los Cabos police were stationed at shopping malls to guard against the kind of looting that occurred after Hurricane Odile.
Foreign tourists were still strolling around in Cabo San Lucas on Monday as workers began boarding over windows of businesses. Some boat owners took their small fishing boats out of the water.
Earlier Monday, as a tropical storm, Newton dumped torrential rains that prompted some 100 people to evacuate their homes and damaged residences in Uruapan in the Pacific coast state of Michoacan, the city government reported. Some roads were blocked by flooding and mudslides in the neighboring state of Guerrero, where some people were evacuated by helicopter. No deaths were reported in either state.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Cabo San Lucas and the nearby coastline. Coastal portions of five Mexican states could see 5 to 10 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of 15 inches, the hurricane center said.
Newton was expected to move up the peninsula and enter the Gulf of California by Tuesday night. The hurricane center said the storm was likely to continue north and cross into southern Arizona as a tropical depression Wednesday night.