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Hurricane Norma downgraded to Category 2 ahead of Mexico landfall

Hurricane Norma is approaching Mexico's Pacific coast
Hurricane Norma is approaching Mexico's Pacific coast.

Hurricane Norma weakened Friday to a Category 2 storm ahead of landfall near a tourist hotspot on Mexico's Pacific coast.

The hurricane—which on Thursday had registered as a powerful Category 4 out of maximum five on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale—featured sustained winds of 109 miles an hour (175 kmh), the US National Hurricane Center said.

Landfall was expected Saturday, with the tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas at the southern end of the Baja California peninsula, in the crosshairs. About 60,000 mostly foreign tourists are currently visiting the resort, local civil protection officials said.

The NHC bulletin said Norma was continuing to lose strength. However, the slow speed of the weather system—five miles an hour (8 kmh)—was expected to bolster the amount of rainfall over land.

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, with a focus on the cities of San Quintin, Mulege and La Paz.

Mexico's Conagua national water commission said Norma could make landfall twice, reaching San Jose del Cabo in Baja California Sur by Saturday as a Category 1 , and again overnight Sunday in the state of Sinaloa.

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 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, authorities said Tuesday.

© 2023 AFP

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