Storm packing winds of 195km per hour makes landfall and heads northwest as forecasts warn of floods and mudslides.
Residents in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula are making preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Blanca. It is expected to make landfall along the southwest coast as a tropical storm on Monday.
Blanca is the second hurricane to form off Mexico’s Pacific coast this year and is currently located around 85km to the east of Socorro Island.
The storm is now in the process of weakening, having peaked as a Category 4 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson scale) with winds approaching 195kph.
By the time the system does make landfall, it will be near the small fishing village of San Carlos, and those winds are likely to be nearer 65kph with gusts around 85kph.
Of greater significance will be the intense rainfall associated with the storm. Civil Protection director Luis Felipe Puente announced that 2,000 army troops and 1,300 marines have been put on alert.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is predicting that much of Baja California could receive between 150 to 250mm of rain, and there is the possibility of life-threatening floods and mudslides.
Locals are bracing themselves for the storm’s arrival. Los Cabos resident, Guillermo Hernandez said: “We are preparing ourselves for Hurricane Blanca and taking the necessary measures. And like a good Mexican, we all left it all for the last minute.”
Banks and businesses have been boarding up their windows, and people have been forming long queues at petrol stations to stock up on fuel.
Hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings are in effect across the region, but local elections are still expected to go ahead on Sunday. Last September, Hurricane Odile wreaked havoc across southern Baja California, stranding thousands of tourists in the process.