Hurricane threatens Mexico

The US National Hurricane Centre said the hurricane, a category 2 on a five-step scale, was gaining force.

It could become a powerful category 3 storm later in the day, capable of blowing down large trees and destroying mobile homes.

The Centre warned residents of southern Baja California to brace for possible landfall Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, but the most likely track has the hurricane slamming ashore near the port city of Mazatlan.

The US State Department warned US citizens in the hurricane’s path late Monday to head to higher ground or identify shelter, adding that flights into the main area airports could be suspended at any time.

Paul was located 730 km south of Cabo San Lucas, one of two towns that together make up Los Cabos, an exclusive resort popular with US golfers and other tourists.

Forecasters said Paul would pass near the resort sometime on Wednesday before crashing into the Mexican mainland.

Vacationers in Los Cabos were concerned but there were no evacuations.

“The guests are asking about it, but for now we’re telling them we don’t have any solid information and that the weather is very unpredictable,” said Patricia Salbana, a receptionist at the Fiesta Americana Grand hotel in Los Cabos.

“It might change direction,” said Omar Muro, a spokesman at the nearby InterContinental hotel. “We don’t want to give guests a false alarm.”

The state of Sinaloa, which took a hit from Hurricane Lane in September, was in the path of the latest storm.

Lane missed Los Cabos before crashing into Sinaloa on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, leaving a path of destruction that killed three.

Paul could even throw a curveball at central bank economists in Mexico City if it destroys crops in Sinaloa, creating food shortages and pushing up inflation.

Lane devastated key tomato crops in Sinaloa.

That helped pushed September’s inflation to its highest monthly rate in six years.

“If it hit there, inflation could continue to be impacted,” said
Mario Correa, an economist at Scotiabank Inverlat.

Farmers in the state were keeping a close eye on the storm.

“Obviously people are really alarmed,” said Manuel Ortiz, a meteorologist at the Confederation of Agricultural Associations of Sinaloa state.