Hurricane Norbert weakens slightly; Odile grows


Thursday, October 9th 2008, 11:38 am
By: News 9


By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ

Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Hurricane Norbert weakened to a still-potent Category 3 storm early Thursday on a path expected to take it to Mexico's southern Baja California peninsula over the weekend.

Norbert's winds have decreased slightly to 115 mph (185 kph) after briefly hitting Category 4 force at 135 mph (215 kph) on Wednesday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Forecasters said it remains a dangerous storm.

In the state of Baja California Sur, authorities canceled a weekend fishing contest in the coastal town of Todos Santos and changed the arrival dates in Los Cabos of two cruise ships.

Los Cabos Mayor Oscar Nunez late Wednesday urged residents living in makeshift housing and in low-lying areas to prepare to evacuate.

Luis Gonzalez, the state's top civil protection official, said brigades are ready to begin evacuating residents of the towns of Agua Escondida, El Cardonal and Marquez de Leon on Norbert's potential path.

In Ciudad Obregon, across the Sea of Cortez from Baja California, farmers rushed to finish fertilizing their fields before the hurricane hit.

Norbert will likely turn toward the northeast over the next two days en route to the Baja peninsula and the northwestern Mexican mainland, forecasters said.

The hurricane was centered about 385 miles (620 kilometers) south-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California Thursday morning and it was moving toward the northwest near 7 mph (11 kph).

Tropical Storm Odile, meanwhile, grew a little stronger Thursday morning, with maximum sustained winds near 50 mph (85 kph). Forecasters said it might reach hurricane force by the weekend.

It was centered about 245 miles (395 kilometers) southeast of Puerto Angel and was projected to head northwest, parallel to Mexico's Pacific coast but offshore.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)