Hurricane Norma was on track to brush past Cabo San Lucas on Thursday as it churned toward Baja California Sur in Mexico, where forecasters say it will unleash torrential rain and flooding in the southern portions of the state this weekend.
The Category 4 hurricane’s winds had reached 130 miles per hour as it churned north at 7 m.p.h. on Thursday afternoon, about 405 miles south of Cabo San Lucas, a city that is home to tourist resorts. Norma is expected to weaken when it bears down closer to the Baja California peninsula on Friday night and Saturday, said the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Still, mudslides, powerful winds, heavy rain and flooding were in store for the southern part of Baja California Sur, which will experience the worst effects of the storm through the weekend, the hurricane center said.
A hurricane watch, which is typically issued 48 hours before the onslaught of tropical-storm-force winds, was in effect for the peninsula from Todos Santos, a town on the Pacific Coast, and across the southern portion of the peninsula to Los Barriles, a town along the Gulf of California.
Five to 10 inches of rain, with some areas possibly receiving up to 15 inches through Sunday, could generate flooding, including in urban areas, and mudslides at higher elevations.
On Thursday, the Mexican government issued a tropical storm watch for Islas Marías, an archipelago off the western coast of Mexico.
Forecasters warned that towns elsewhere in Baja California Sur and along the west coast of mainland Mexico should monitor the progress of the storm, although it was expected to weaken Friday and through the weekend.
Skies were already cloudy and the wind had picked up slightly in Cabo San Lucas on Thursday, said Edwin Rodriguez, who works at the front desk at the Cabo Inn Hotel, where guests are typically housed on the second floor when storms bring heavy rain.
He said that the government said it was prepared in advance of the storm, lining up shelters, food and supplies if needed, especially for people in low-lying coastal areas.
“They have places where people can sleep safely, for those areas that are on the sand, in dangerous zones on rainy days,” he said. “Even if they don’t need it. They say it is going to be Category 1, but you never know.”
Norma is the 14th named storm to form in the eastern Pacific so far in 2023, compared with 19 named storms in 2022.