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24 Sep 2003 08:15
A storm that battered the Baja California peninsula and sideswiped Mexico’s western mainland coast was downgraded to a tropical depression on Tuesday as it stalled over the Gulf of California.
Tropical Depression Marty soaked northwestern Mexico and scattered rain over portions of the southwestern United States on Tuesday afternoon.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre warned that the storm could drop between 5cm and 10cm of rain on southwest Arizona overnight and on Wednesday.
Marty’s maximum sustained winds had dropped to 55kph, down from the peak 160kph hurricane-force winds that slammed into the Los Cabos tourist region on the Baja California peninsula on Monday. Five deaths were attributed to the storm.
Traveling quickly over the Gulf of California early on Tuesday, Marty knocked out power to this fishing village, the largest port in Sonora state.
Phone lines went dead, the wind toppled neon hotel signs and water rose 0,5m deep in the streets.
In a local morgue, reporters saw the bodies of two men who witnesses said were killed in the storm.
Salesman Jon Guzman of the Pacific coastal city of Los Mochis was driving his Nissan sedan north along the coast when Marty stopped him in his tracks.
“The highway is open, but maybe it shouldn’t be,” Guzman said. “It’s very dangerous. It’s become a giant lake.”
Marty slowed down as it arrived over the northern Gulf of California on Tuesday. The storm was travelling north-northwest at 5kph, and carried rainfall into portions of Arizona, New Mexico and extreme western Texas, the US National Hurricane Centre said.
On Monday, Epigmeo Lopez (52) died after the storm blew the roof off his cardboard and wood shack in the Baja California Sur city of Cabo San Lucas, carrying the hammock in which he was sleeping with it, authorities said.
In the state’s capital, La Paz, a car carrying two passengers was swept away by a flash flood, leaving one person dead and one missing, according to state civil protection authorities. A 55-year-old man was killed in western Sinaloa state when his truck was hit by a falling tree.
About 1 200 people were evacuated to public shelters in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, both cities in Los Cabos, a resort region known for its golf courses, deep-sea fishing and dramatic seaside desert landscapes.
Some hotels were forced to rely on candles and generators on Monday. But most businesses on the peninsula seemed to have escaped major damage.—Sapa-AP
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