By Adam Douty
On Sunday afternoon, Hurricane Odile weakened to a Category 3 hurricane while located to the south of Baja California Sur with maximum sustained winds of 201 kph (125 mph) and gusts as high as 249 kph (155 mph). The storm had strengthened to a Category 4 early Sunday morning.
Despite not making a direct landfall, Odile will pass close enough to bring life threatening conditions to Baja California Sur through Tuesday.
The southern tip of Baja California will experience the worse conditions from Odile Sunday night and into early Monday as 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) of rain floods the area. Sustained winds of 80-130 kph (50-80 mph) are expected and wind gusts approaching 160 kph (100 mph) will cause widespread power outages and structural damage.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Richard Jaworski warns that “Given Cabo San Lucas’s location on the southern tip of Baja California, risks will not only be confined to flooding rain and damaging wind, but a several foot storm surge will also cause significant coastal flooding.” Local residents and tourists should expect extended power outages along with loss basic services.
While conditions begin to improve in Cabo San Lucas on Monday, life-threatening conditions will spread northward across central and northern Baja California Sur on Monday and Tuesday. However, as the storm moves northward, impacts are expected to gradually lessen as Odile weakens over progressively cooler water.
This animated GIF shows powerful Hurricane Odile tracking toward Baja California. (NOAA/Satellite)
Heavy rainfall will not be confined to Baja California as torrential downpours will extend into western Mexico.
During the afternoon hours early this week, heavy thunderstorms will develop along the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. The downpours will produce a general 25 to 75 millimeters (1 to 3 inches) of rain with locally 150 millimeters (6 inches) along the western slopes of the mountains.
That amount of rain could trigger flash flooding and mudslides, especially since the region was just soaked by once-Hurricane Norbert.
Through the middle and into the end of the week as Odile continues to drift to the north, despite weakening, the door will open for its moisture to surge northward and bring flooding downpours back to the Southwest U.S.