LOS CABOS, Mexico >> Hurricane Norbert slumped to tropical storm force off of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Sunday after pounding fishing villages and damaging more than 1,000 homes while kicking up dangerous surf farther north along the California coast.
Norbert peaked as a Category 3 hurricane early Saturday with sustained winds of 120 mph, but by Sunday afternoon it was a rapidly weakening tropical storm with winds of 50 mph.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was likely to fade as it bends toward the coast of the peninsula by midweek, bringing more heavy rains to the Baja desert and to the U.S. Southwest.
Though it has stayed away from land, Norbert passed near enough to the coast in recent days to drench fishing villages and resorts, and pound beaches.
High surf and waves broke a contention wall and flooded the fishing village of Puerto San Carlos, said Venustiano Perez, mayor of the municipality of Comondu, which encompasses the village and is located about 300 miles north of the tip of the peninsula.
The state government reported that 500 people there had gone to shelters and health officials were taking steps to fight mosquitoes in stagnant water to prevent the spread of dengue
At least 2,000 people were evacuated from Los Cabos, La Paz and Comondu, said the state government’s civil protection director Carlos Rincon.
The hurricane also was causing high surf along the beaches of Southern California and contributing to rainstorms across the Southwest.
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 Miami-based Hurricane Center in Miami said that Norbert was centered about 180 miles southwest of Punta Eugenia, Mexico and was heading west-northwest at 8 mph.