Weakening Tropical Storm Blanca nears Mexico's Baja California

A weakening Tropical Storm Blanca neared the Baja California Peninsula on Monday, with rains expected to lash a wide area including the resorts of Los Cabos.

Once a Category 4 hurricane, Blanca weakened on Sunday and was expected to become a tropical depression on Monday after making landfall on the southwest coast of the peninsula.

With memories still fresh from Hurricane Odile, which battered ramshackle homes, stores and luxury hotels when it made a direct hit on Los Cabos as a Category 3 storm in September, authorities put thousands of troops on alert and issued maritime warnings.

Locals nailed down roofs and dragged food stands in from the beach in Cabo San Lucas, even as some tourists strolled the sand taking pictures of the cloudy skies and rising surf. Gusty winds whipped the tops of palm trees.

Mexico's National Water Commission warned of strong winds, lightning, up to 20-foot (6-meter) surf and "extraordinary rainfall," with possible localized accumulations of 10 inches (250 millimeters) or more in Baja California Sur state, which is home to Los Cabos.

Los Cabos Civil Protection director Wenceslao Pettit said the area had begun to experience light rains associated with Blanca.

Blanca's maximum sustained winds decreased Sunday night to 65 mph (100 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The storm's center was about 95 miles (150 kilometers) southwest of Cabo San Lucas and moving north-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).


Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Mexico City contributed.