Hurricane Norma intensified to a powerful Category 4 storm as it approached Mexico’s Pacific coast with winds exceeding 130 miles per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). Norma was classified as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which rates such storms up to a maximum of Category 5. As the storm moved towards the Baja California peninsula, including the popular beach resort of Los Cabos, the government activated a national emergency plan.
Over 6,600 soldiers were placed on alert in the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, focusing on the cities of San Quintin, Mulege, and La Paz. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador mentioned the need to act swiftly to deploy teams to assist the population and provide food.
The NHC reported that Norma was emitting maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour, with higher gusts. Minor intensity fluctuations were expected, followed by gradual weakening starting from Friday and continuing into the weekend. Norma was moving northward at about seven miles per hour, and was expected to approach the Baja California peninsula between Friday night and Saturday, with tropical storm conditions possible by early Saturday.
Regarding precipitation, Norma was expected to produce rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches through Sunday across the far southern portion of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, with localized downpours of as much as 15 inches. These rains were likely to cause flash and urban flooding, along with possible mudslides in areas of higher terrain. Swells generated by the storm were likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. By 1500 GMT, the storm’s epicenter was 390 kilometers west of Manzanillo, in the western Mexican state of Colima.
This hurricane is the third major weather event to hit Mexico in two weeks, following Hurricane Lidia, which reached Category 4 status before hitting Puerto Vallarta as a Category 2 storm last week.
Norma rapidly intensified on its path toward Los Cabos, moving northward at 6 mph, although it was not expected to make landfall in Mexico.
The information on Hurricane Norma and its trajectory highlights the need for preparation and swift response from authorities and the population in the face of potentially devastating weather phenomena.