Hurricane Lidia has crashed into Mexico’s Pacific coast as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm, killing at least one person as residents sought shelter from torrential rain and powerful winds.
Lidia made landfall near the popular beach resort of Puerto Vallarta, with maximum sustained winds of about 220km per hour (140 miles per hour) the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday.
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“Life-threatening winds and flooding rainfall spreading inland over west-central Mexico,” the NHC said in a bulletin.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the government had deployed about 6,000 members of the armed forces to help residents.
“You must take refuge in safe places – stay away from low areas, streams, rivers and hillsides,” he wrote on social media.
Authorities in the state of Nayarit said one man was killed when a tree fell on the van he was driving north of Puerto Vallarta.
In the town, residents boarded up windows and dragged sacks of sand from the beach to reinforce flood barriers in front of their shops. Authorities at the airport said it would be closed until 8am (14:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
School classes were suspended, businesses closed early and most residents waited out the storm at home or in shelters opened by the authorities, according to reporters from the AFP news agency.
Risk of flooding, storm surge
Social media videos showed heavy rain as far as the inland city of Guadalajara. Some people reported fallen trees blocking roads and rivers threatening to burst their banks.
Lidia was expected to bring rainfall of up to 30cm (12 inches) to Nayarit, Sinaloa and Jalisco states, the NHC said.
“These rains will likely produce flash and urban flooding, along with possible mudslides in areas of higher terrain near the coast,” it warned.
“A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the south of where the center makes landfall. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves,” the NHC added.
Hurricanes hit Mexico every year on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts, usually between May and November.
Further south, Tropical Storm Max left two people dead and injured at least two more in the southern state of Guerrero, one of the country’s poorest regions, authorities said on Tuesday.
Lidia comes eight years after Patricia, a Category 5 hurricane – the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale – struck close to Puerto Vallarta with winds that forced thousands of people to flee their homes.
Scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer with climate change.
Source: News Agencies