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story.lead_photo.caption A tourist walks on the beach before the expected arrival of Hurricane Lorena, in Los Cabos, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Hurricane Lorena neared Mexico's resort-studded Los Cabos area Friday as owners pulled their boats from the water, tourists hunkered down in hotels, and police and soldiers went through low-lying, low-income neighborhoods urging people to evacuate. (AP Photo/Fernando Castillo)

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- Hurricane Lorena spared the resort-studded twin cities of Los Cabos a direct hit and was reduced to a tropical storm Saturday as it headed up the east coast of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded Lorena to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon, saying it had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, and its center was about 50 miles north-northeast of Loreto, Mexico. It was heading north at 12 mph on a forecast track parallel to the coast through the Sea of Cortez.

The Mexican government discontinued the tropical storm warning for the Baja peninsula and the hurricane watch for portions of mainland Mexico.

The storm brought intense rain and strong waves to Los Cabos, but minimal damage. Clouds began to clear Friday evening. Electric service was spotty in some communities.

For days, forecasts had predicted likely landfall in or a near miss with Los Cabos, but at the last minute the storm took a path well east of the glitzy resort area.

On Friday, residents and tourists in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo hunkered down in homes, shelters and hotels amid warnings of damaging winds, flash floods and life-imperiling surf.

Police and soldiers went through low-lying, low-income neighborhoods in Los Cabos urging people to evacuate. Locals who have been through past hurricanes took no chances, pulling boats from the water and boarding up windows and doors.

Authorities in Los Cabos said 787 people had taken refuge at 18 storm shelters.

Civil defense official Carlos Godinez said an American tourist who went to the beach in Los Cabos with his son died after being swept out to sea. The son survived. But Godinez said the death occurred early Thursday, before beach access was restricted, and that it was "not necessarily attributable" to Lorena.

Authorities in Los Cabos had closed the port and suspended classes for Friday and prepared to use schools as shelters if necessary.

Lorena came onshore a day earlier as a hurricane in the western Mexican state of Colima, whipping palm trees with its strong winds and lashing the area with rain. It flooded streets, washed out roads and touched off minor slides in 10 municipalities. Dozens of trees were downed, and power was knocked out in some areas.

Colima state Gov. Jose Ignacio Peralta said more than 7,400 acres of crops such as bananas and papayas were damaged statewide, but there were no deaths or significant damage to infrastructure.

A second cyclone, Tropical Storm Mario, was several hundred miles south of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula and was expected to disperse by Monday.

In the Atlantic, meanwhile, Tropical Storm Jerry was headed northwest toward Bermuda, after kicking up rough seas around Puerto Rico.

The hurricane center warned that swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip-current conditions for portions of the northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico

Jerry's maximum sustained winds stood at 65 mph Saturday afternoon. It was centered about 320 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was moving northwest at 14 mph.

A Section on 09/22/2019

Print Headline: Hurricane Lorena downgraded to tropical storm, moves up Baja coast


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