Hurricane Odile, packing 100 mph winds, raked the Baja California peninsula Monday, injuring scores of tourists and residents, forcing the evacuation of thousands and leveling huts and luxury hotels alike. As of 5 p.m. PDT, the Mexican government had canceled the hurricane warning for the West Coast of Baja California south of Cabo San Lazaro and South of San Evaristo on the East Coast, but a hurricane warning still was in effect for points north.
At 5 p.m., the storm, which was downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 1 hurricane, was 30 miles west-northwest of Loreto, Mexico, with sustained winds of 75 mph -- stronger winds in the hills and mountains -- and moving north-northwest at 12 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported. Forecasters said Odile would lose strength as it churns it way up the coast and expected it to be downgraded to a tropical storm Tuesday. Coastal flooding was predicted along with as much as 18 inches of rain in some areas and possible mudslides.
"From what we have seen around here, everything is pretty much destroyed," Alejandro Tealdi, a 32-year-old resident of Cabo San Lucas, told the Associated Press. "In the seven years I've been here, I've never seen anything hit like this."
Odile knocked out San Jose del Cabo's international airport. About 135 people suffered minor injuries as a result of the storm, Luis Felipe Puente, head of national emergency services, told Reuters. The AP said the injuries were mostly from flying glass or falling objects.
High winds ripped down power lines, leaving 239,000 people without power, Puente told the AP. "The most important thing was the force of the wind," Puente said. "That was the central element that hurt Los Cabos."
The storm also smashed storefronts and tore down water tanks and air conditioners. Looters raided drug stores, electronics shops and convenience stores before police restored order, Reuters said. Tourists hid in hotel bathtubs or decamped to shelters.
"It was awful," local shop worker Cristina Osuna, 31, said. "Nobody slept last night because water was coming in and we had to get it out."
"We're going to need about two weeks to clean this up. These are some serious losses," Gerardo Rodas, 50, owner of a small Loreto hotel, told Reuters.
Some 26,000 tourists and 4,000 local residents were believed to be in the area and thousands were evacuated from areas at risk of flooding, Reuters said.