LOS CABOS, Mexico >> Rains and high surf brought by Hurricane Norbert damaged more than 1,000 homes and forced thousands of people to seek higher ground as the storm roared northward off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
Norbert weakened late Saturday afternoon, but still remained a powerful Category 2 storm with winds of up to 105 mph (165 kph). Though staying away from land, it was near enough the coast to drench 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 morning, 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.
At least 1,000 people were in shelters Friday evening in Los Cabos, where the storm toppled trees and knocked out electricity in parts of the resort area. 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 afternoon that Norbert was centered about 160 miles (260 kilometers) west of sparsely populated Cabo San Lazaro and was heading northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).
The Hurricane Center said Norbert was moving away from the coast and weather conditions for Baja California should improve. It said Norbert should become a tropical storm on Sunday.