World

Newton makes landfall in mainland Mexico, downgraded to tropical storm

NOAA satellite image from Sept. 7, 2016 at 01:00 AM EDT shows Hurricane Newton moving northward up the Baja Mexico coast.

NOAA satellite image from Sept. 7, 2016 at 01:00 AM EDT shows Hurricane Newton moving northward up the Baja Mexico coast.

Hurricane Newton made landfall Wednesday morning in mainland Mexico, weakening to a tropical storm as it continued to track toward the U.S. border, the National Hurricane Center announced. It is expected to bring potentially dangerous rains for Arizona and New Mexico.

Newton first came ashore near the Los Cabos resorts Tuesday morning as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph, pelting the area with torrential rain as residents sheltered at home and tourists huddled in hotels. 

Newton broke windows, downed trees and knocked out power, but the area was spared the kind of extensive damage seen two years ago when they were walloped by a stronger storm.

A shrimp boat capsized in rough seas in the Gulf of California, killing two people and leaving three others missing, authorities said. The boat had set out from the port of Ensenada and was bound for Mazatlan.

After passing over the resort area, Newton headed northward up the sparsely populated interior of the peninsula and then sput out over the gulf during the night. Early Wednesday, its center was about 10 miles southeast of Bahia Kino and was moving north at around 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

After passing over relatively little populated areas in Sonora, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Newton could push into southeastern Arizona in the afternoon and drop 1 to 3 inches of rain there and over parts of New Mexico through Thursday.

"Heavy rain could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in mountainous terrain," the center said.

About 14,000 tourists were in Los Cabos during the storm, tourism officials said, and visitors began venturing out after Newton passed.

"Just trying to make it through the day, with a little help," Mark Hernandez, a visitor from California, said as he raised a can of beer at one of the few bars open in Cabo San Lucas. "We pray for the city of Cabo San Lucas. It was a rough one as you can see."

Palm trees were toppled along the town's coastal boulevard and some windows were broken. But there was calm in the city as firefighters cleaned refuse from the streets during the day.

In 2014, Los Cabos suffered heavy damage to homes, shops and hotels when it was hammered by Hurricane Odile, which hit land as a Category 3 storm.

"You know, it could have been a lot worse and I think we are very fortunate that it wasn't as bad as Odile," said Darlene Savord, another tourist from California. "I think that we are very fortunate and blessed."

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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