Residents hunker down as Hurricane Odile makes landfall

Hurricane Odile hit Baja California early on Monday, damaging resorts and ripping trees from their roots

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The Independent US

The Mexican holiday mecca of Baja California was hit by Hurricane Odile in the early hours of Monday morning, as emergency officials feared the category three hurricane could result in deadly flash floods across the peninsula.

Winds of up to 120 miles per hour hit popular resorts like Los Cabos on Monday. The Baja California peninsula is home to upscale megaresorts as well as smaller communities with low-lying neighbourhoods.

The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that Odile’s centre made landfall at 9:45pm and was moving north-northwest at a rate of 17 miles per hour.

While the NHC said that Odile was forecast to gradually weaken over the next couple of days, the organisation warned that a dangerous storm surge was expected to create significant coastal flooding.

The NHC forecast rainfall between 6 and 12 inches across much of Baja California up until Friday, and that “these rains are likely to result in life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.”

Initial reports suggest that the majority of people in the area managed to find safe areas to bed down for the storm, while Mexican authorities evacuated coastal areas and prepared shelters for 30,000 people.

Still, Denise Mellor, a traveller from Orange County, California, was frustrated about a lack of information about the storm. "It's a little bit (unsettling) that we don't have a choice but to sit in here and hope for the best," Mellor said. "So that makes me a little bit scared."

22 airline flights were cancelled and ports in Baja California were closed.

Reuters quoted Mexican officials when reporting that around 26,000 foreign tourists and 4,000 Mexicans were in the region.

Odile had reached category four in strength on Sunday but weakened to category three by the time it reached landfall.

Baja California is the northernmost and westernmost state in Mexico.

Additional reporting by agencies.