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Hurricane Newton slams into Mexico’s Los Cabos resorts

A woman wades through a street flooded by the heavy rains brought on by Hurricane Newton in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (Eduardo Verdugo / Associated Press)
A woman wades through a street flooded by the heavy rains brought on by Hurricane Newton in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (Eduardo Verdugo / Associated Press)
By Ignacio Martinez Associated Press

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico – Hurricane Newton shattered windows, downed trees and knocked out power in parts of the twin resorts of Los Cabos on Tuesday, but residents were spared the kind of extensive damage seen two years ago when they were walloped by a monster storm.

Newton made landfall at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula in the morning as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph (150 kph), pelting the area with torrential rain as locals hunkered down in their homes and tourists huddled in their hotels.

Palm trees were toppled along Cabo San Lucas’ coastal boulevard and some windows were broken. But there was calm in the city as firefighters cleaned refuse from the streets during the day.

“There are only minor damages – fallen branches, some fallen banners, some cables. … In general, no victims,” Army Col. Enrique Rangel said.

Roberto Dominguez, a customer relations worker at the Fairfield Marriot, said the hotel’s windows and balconies had been sufficiently protected from the storm and guests were fine, although cellphone and internet services had been knocked out.

“At this moment there are no reports of people killed or missing due to Hurricane Newton,” said Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico’s civil defense agency.

In 2014, Los Cabos suffered heavy damage to homes, shops and hotels when it was hammered by Hurricane Odile, which hit land as a Category 3 storm.

After making landfall Newton moved inland and its center was located about 75 miles (125 kilometers) west-northwest of La Paz, the capital of Baja California state. It was moving northeast at around 17 mph (28 kph), and maximum sustained winds had decreased to 75 mph (125 kph).

Mexico extended hurricane warnings for parts of the peninsula and also a stretch of the mainland coast across the Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez. The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Newton could cross the peninsula and re-enter the gulf in the night.

Newton was forecast to dump 8 to 12 inches of rain on Baja California Sur state with isolated maximums up to 18 inches, and heavy rains were also expected for five other states. Newton could even reach the U.S. border at Arizona as a tropical storm, forecasters said.

The hurricane center said the storm could dump 1 to 3 inches of rain over parts of Arizona and New Mexico through Thursday, threatening flash floods and landslides.

About 14,000 tourists had remained in Los Cabos as of Monday night as the storm approached and airlines cancelled flights out, said Genaro Ruiz, the state tourism secretary.

Officials evacuated low-lying areas and opened 18 shelters at schools in Los Cabos and 38 more in other parts of the state, while warning people against panic buying.

Los Cabos police were also stationed at shopping malls to guard against the kind of looting that occurred after Hurricane Odile.

On Monday torrential rains from then-Tropical Storm Newton caused flooding and mudslides in Michoacan and Guerrero states, but there were no deaths reported.

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