Atlantic, Pacific storms hit land same day

Thousands of homes damaged in Nicaragua

severe floods feared

September 05, 2007|By Alex Renderos and Hictor Tobar | Alex Renderos and Hictor Tobar,Los Angeles Times

San Pedro Sula, Honduras -- Hurricane Felix came ashore on Nicaragua's remote Miskito Coast early yesterday as a Category 5 storm, damaging about 5,000 homes in the region before moving west toward the heart of this country of 7 million people, officials said.

Less than 12 hours later and more than 1,600 miles away in the Pacific, a second and much weaker hurricane, Henriette, struck the resort city of San Jose del Cabo on the southern tip of Baja California.

The center of Henriette's eye reached the Baja mainland yesterday afternoon about six miles east of San Jose del Cabo's downtown.

It was the first time Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes had made landfall on the same day since the U.S. National Hurricane Center began keeping records in 1949, according to the Associated Press.

Packing 160 mph winds as it made landfall, Felix quickly lost power and was downgraded to a tropical storm as it advanced over the sparsely populated mountains along the Nicaraguan-Honduran border. The storm nonetheless threatened to cause severe flooding as it passed near Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, later yesterday evening.

In Nicaragua, officials said 5,500 structures had been damaged in Puerto Cabezas and other coastal cities. At least three people had been killed. Honduran and Nicaraguan officials had evacuated thousands of tourists and residents from seaside towns all along the Miskito Coast beginning Monday.

As many as 60,000 tourists, most of them Americans, remained in the resorts at the southern tip of Baja California as Henriette approached, Mexican officials said.

Yesterday evening, Henriette was on a path to drench Mexico's northern deserts and then drop an inch or two of rain on Arizona and New Mexico in the Southwest tomorrow night. The Mexican government declared a state of emergency in southern Baja California.

In Honduras, authorities warned of severe flooding and landslides caused by an expected 15 inches of rain.

Officials declared a "red alert" in Tegucigalpa, which is home to more than 1 million people. Dozens of gasoline stations ran out of fuel. City officials said they were ordering mandatory evacuations in some neighborhoods.

Officials at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Felix "will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides."

Thousands of Miskito Indians in the region declined to be evacuated ahead of the storm. Nicaraguan officials said at least one person had been killed in Cayos Miskitos, an island 25 miles from the mainland.

Felix was the second Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Latin America this season. Hurricane Dean struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula last month.

President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras said he feared serious damage to the country's corn crop, which had been expected to be the largest harvest in years.

Speaking in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexican President Felipe Calderon blamed climate change for increasing the power of hurricanes and deforestation for increasing the damage they cause.

"It's sad that these things happen in large measure because of the damage we humans have inflicted on nature," Calderon said.

In Cabo San Lucas, officials were worried about tourism.

Marquez Cervantes said the region's tourists were safe. But he and others worried that a direct hit on the city might harm the tourist trade.

"Here we depend 100 percent on tourism," Marquez Cervantes said. "If it hits us hard, our principal industry could be destroyed."

Alex Renderos and Hictor Tobar write for the Los Angeles Times.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.