CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico – Hurricane Olaf slipped back to tropical storm force Friday after slamming into the Los Cabos resorts at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and then drenching the region with torrential rains.
The storm came ashore near San Jose del Cabo late Thursday as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
But winds had dropped to 45 mph by Friday afternoon, when it was centered about 30 miles west-southwest of Cabo San Lazaro.
At least 700 local residents spent the night in shelters while an estimated 20,000 foreign tourists hunkered down in their hotels.
State Civil Defense Deputy Secretary Carlos Alfredo Godínez said he had received no reports of lives lost.
The national electrical company reported the storm knocked out power to most customers in the state, but it was gradually being restored. Some hotels reported minor damage.
As the storm came ashore some motorists were stranded inside their cars in high water. But the Cabo San Lucas Fire Department reported only fallen trees and power lines.
Officials closed ports and schools in the area, suspended COVID-19 vaccinations and told many nonessential workers to stay home. Businesses had boarded up windows and people lined up for last-minute purchases in supermarkets ahead of the storm.
The Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to head up the western coast of the peninsula during the day and then veer out into the Pacific by night.
More than 500,000 people live in the La Paz-Los Cabos region and Lilzi Orcí, president of the Los Cabos Hotels Association, estimated that about 20,000 foreign tourists were in the area despite COVID-19 restrictions that kept hotels to less than 40% of capacity.
The Hurricane Center forecast 5 to 10 inches of rain on the southern part of the peninsula, with up to 15 inches in isolated spots, creating the danger of flash floods and mudslides.