Weakening Hurricane Norbert marches up Baja coast after damaging homes

A weakening Hurricane Norbert moved parallel to Mexico's Baja California peninsula early Sunday after pounding fishing villages and resorts, damaging more than a 1,000 homes and forcing hundreds to fleet to higher ground.

Norbert grew to Category 3 status earlier in the day but by late Saturday night it had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of up to 85 mph (140 kph). Though staying away from land, it passed near enough to the coast to have drenched fishing villages and resorts, and pound beaches.

High surf and waves broke a contention wall and flooded the fishing village of Puerto de San Carlos, said Venustiano Perez, mayor of the municipality of Comondu, which encompasses the village and is located about 300 miles (500 kilometers) north of the tip of the peninsula.

Perez said that 1,250 houses were damaged and that some of the 2,500 people affected were evacuated to a shelter.

Baja California Sur state Gov. Marcos Covarrubias urged people in vulnerable areas to evacuate and said travelers should stay off highways as the storm passed by. He said most government services would be closed or restricted, and schools in Los Cabos and La Paz were closed on Friday.

By Saturday, at least 2,000 people had been evacuated from Los Cabos, La Paz and Comondu, said the state government's civil protection director Carlos Rincon.

Earlier, the storm toppled trees and knocked out electricity in parts of Los Cabos. Firefighters rescued several people from vehicles stranded in flooded streets, said Wenceslao Pettit, Public Safety director in Cabo San Lucas.

Ports in the area popular with U.S. tourists remained closed to navigation and police officers were sent to the evacuated neighborhoods to prevent looting, Pettit added.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Saturday night that Norbert was centered about 205 miles (330 kilometers) west of sparsely populated Cabo San Lazaro and was heading west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).