Hurricane Odile roars ashore
By Catherine E. Shoichet, Ben Brumfield and Ashley Fantz, CNN
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
- NEW: The Category 1 hurricane still threatens to cause floods, forecasters say
- Hurricane Odile hit the southern tip of Baja California Sur late Sunday
- An American mother on maternity leave holes up with her newborn in a hotel
- Forecasters warn of destructive waves and life-threatening floods
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(CNN) — Hurricane Odile snapped palm trees like twigs, washed out roads and left tourists trapped in Mexican resorts Monday.
Even as it weakened into a Category 1 hurricane, the storm threatened to bring torrential rains and flooding as it moved over the Baja California peninsula, forecasters said.
Already, the hurricane has left stunned residents and tourists in its wake.
Sarah McKinney, who was in Cabo San Lucas on maternity leave from her job in Arkansas when the then-Category 3 storm hit with 125 mph winds Sunday night, tweeted photos of the wreckage Monday: the collapsed roof of a restaurant, a shuttle van flipped over, a resort’s swimming pool pushed into the ocean.
Hurricane Odile slams Mexican peninsula
Hurricane Odile hits Baja Peninsula
Every car she walked by after the storm had broken windows, she wrote. The normally pristine marina in the idyllic resort town was littered with debris.
“2 days ago we walked along the marina happy with not a care in the world,” she said. “Today I’m shocked and saddened.”
The powerful storm caused severe damage at the airport in Los Cabos, Mexico’s national director of civil protection said, according to CNN affiliate FOROtv.
Monday night the storm was about 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Loreto, Mexico, packing winds of 75 mph (120 kph) as it headed northwest. It was expected to weaken into a tropical storm early Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said.
On Sunday, gales from Odile whipped torrents of rain ashore, chasing visitors in popular tourist destinations into close quarters. Streets in Cabo San Lucas were drenched. Palm trees were knocked over, and outdoor markets were trashed.
Raul Frias, from Mexico City, was at Club Regina in Cabo when he tweeted that he felt a “great vibration” in a shelter and that something “big was coming down.”
McKinney and her newborn daughter, Madison, had already evacuated out of harm’s way from their first hotel to a second one. But even there, the room roared like a wind tunnel as Odile passed over.
At least 15,000 tourists were sharing McKinney’s experience in Cabo, Mexican civil defense official Luis Felipe Puente said.
She piled up her belongings in the bathtub to protect them from the water seeping through the door to her room. She dammed it up with a mattress, but it still came in about an inch deep.
“I’ve cleared the beds and linen closets and have my daughter and I held up in the bathroom,” she told CNN.
Then the winds subsided. Madison fell asleep.
“The pressure was horrific, but now it is eerily calm — just how people describe when the eye passes over,” she said.
But then the winds smacked the hotel again, and McKinney headed back into the bathroom.
Odile has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane.
“The backhalf is definitely worse,” she posted to Twitter. “More debris and stronger winds and rain. Bedroom is getting soaked from water seeping in.”
Odile was earlier predicted to bring possibly life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, forecasters said Sunday.
Ports and beaches have been closed, and school classes and celebrations for Mexico’s Independence Day were canceled in Baja California Sur state. Independence Day is Tuesday.
CNNMexico.com, and CNN’s Nelson Quiñones, Nick Parker and Brian Walker contributed to this report.