Simon strengthens as powerful hurricane off Mexico coast
LA PAZ, Mexico – Simon grew into a powerful category four hurricane Saturday, October 4, as it swirled off Mexico's Pacific coast, threatening resorts barely recovering from a recent storm.
But the storm, swirling far from land at 640 kilometers west-northwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, was not expected to make landfall as hurricane but rather as a much weaker tropical depression on Thursday, October 2.
Just before 8 pm (0300 GMT Sunday, October 5), Simon was blasting top winds of 215 kilometers (134 miles) per hour, the US-based National Hurricane Center said.
It was just one rung below the strongest storms on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, and was the sixth category four hurricane of the season in the eastern Pacific.
The NHC said predicted Simon had likely reached its "maximum intensity" and would begin to weaken gradually once it moves over cooler waters.
The hurricane was expected to produce up to 20 centimeters (eight inches) of rain across Baja California and parts of Sonora state in northwestern Mexico, triggering floods and landslides.
"This rainfall could cause flash flooding and mudslides," the NHC warned, adding that "life-threatening" surf and rip current conditions were also likely.
The region, known for its Los Cabos resort that attracts many American and Canadian tourists, was devastated by Hurricane Odile last month.
Odile left six people dead, destroyed homes and wrecked luxury hotels after making landfall on September 14 with category-three strength of the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.
The Los Cabos airport only resumed operations Friday, October 3, after flooding had caused power outages and flipped planes over. International flights are due to resume on Wednesday, October 8.
A cruise ship docked in Los Cabos on Friday for the first time since Odile touched down, and another 40 ships are expected to arrive this month. – Rappler.com