Hurricane Norma strengthens to Category 3 ahead of Mexico landfall
Hurricane Norma on Friday once again strengthened to a Category 3 storm as it approaches a tourist hotspot on Mexico's Pacific coast.
The hurricane—which at one point was a Category 4 out of five on the Saffir-Simpson scale—is now packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour), the US National Hurricane Center said in its latest update. It had been a Category 2 storm earlier in the day.
Landfall was expected Saturday, with the tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas at the southern end of the Baja California peninsula, in the crosshairs.
Late Friday, the eye of the storm was located roughly 200 kilometers south of the town, the NHC said.
About 60,000 mostly foreign tourists are currently visiting the resort, local civil protection officials said.
High waves were already crashing onto the peninsula's beaches, according to video broadcast by the television station Milenio.
The government activated a national emergency plan ahead of the storm's arrival.
More than 6,600 soldiers were placed on alert in the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, said the national defense secretariat.
Mexico's Conagua national water commission said Norma could make landfall twice, reaching Baja California Sur by Saturday as a hurricane, and again overnight Sunday in the state of Sinaloa after crossing the Gulf of California.
Authorities are warning of potential flash floods, mudslides in higher areas, as well dangerous surf.
Hurricanes hit Mexico every year on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts, usually between May and November.
Just last week, the country's west was hit by Hurricane Lidia, which left at least two dead after making landfall as a Category 4 storm, causing flooding.
Days earlier, Tropical Storm Max left two people dead and dozens of houses flooded in the southern state of Guerrero, one of the country's poorest regions.
© 2023 AFP