CABO SAN LUCAS – Hurricane Olaf bore down on the Los Cabos resort region at the tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula Thursday as authorities closed ports, prepared temporary shelters and urged people to monitor public announcements.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the eye of Olaf was close to landfall at San Jose Del Cabo late Thursday night and hurricane conditions were spreading across the southern portion of Baja California Sur.
The ports of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo closed to vessel traffic as tourism operators moved boats at Cabo San Lucas to safer moorings. Businesses boarded up windows and people lined up for last-minute purchases in supermarkets.
The resorts would normally be full of tourists this time of year, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels were well below that.
Lilzi Orcí, president of the Los Cabos Hotels Association, said 37 domestic and international airline flights had already been cancelled due to the hurricane. She estimated 20,000 foreign tourists were in the area, less than 40% of the hotels' capacity. Guests would shelter in their hotels, she said.
As rain fell, authorities patrolled through flood-prone working class neighborhoods urging residents to move to shelters.
The hurricane was centered about 20 miles (35 kilometers) east-northeast of Cabo San Lucas late Thursday night with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph). It was advancing to the north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).
The Hurricane Center said Olaf could strengthen more before reaching the coast.
Hurricane-force winds extended as far as 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center and tropical storm-force winds as far as 105 miles (165 kilometers).
The hurricane was expected to bring 5 to 10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 centimeters) of rain to the southern part of the peninsula, with up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) in isolated spots, creating the danger of flash floods and mudslides.