Hurricane John heads toward Baja California

September 01, 2006|By Carlos Martinez and Pete Thomas | Carlos Martinez and Pete Thomas,LOS ANGELES TIMES

MANZANILLO, Mexico -- Hurricane John spared Mexico's Pacific Coast tourism areas but moved northward yesterday toward the Baja California peninsula, where officials prepared to evacuate thousands of residents.

John, which was downgraded yesterday to Category 2, was expected to make landfall today in Baja California before veering northwest into the Pacific.

Officials at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm is expected to diminish in intensity as it passes over cooler waters and should pose no threat to the California coast.

In the Baja resort town Cabo San Lucas, officials were preparing shelter space for as many as 10,000 people who live in neighborhoods in danger of flooding or wind damage.

"We've already warned the people, and they are ready" to evacuate if necessary, Victor Manuel Guluarte Castro, interior minister of the state of Baja California South, said in a telephone interview.

Flights from the resort to the United States were packed with tourists ending their vacations early, and there were long lines at the airport. Local hotels were taking no reservations.

Generators were available to provide electricity if power lines went down, and 97 shelters were being prepared.

Resorts along 400 miles of coastline from Acapulco to Puerto Vallarta had been placed under a hurricane watch as John briefly grew to Category 4 strength just offshore, but the hurricane weakened and never made landfall.

Carlos Martinez and Pete Thomas write for the Los Angeles Times.

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