Image: Man Boards His Shop In Puerto Vallarta In Preparation For Hurricane Olaf
Puerto Vallartans prepared for Olaf by taping windows and securing other fixtures.
updated 10/7/2003 6:46:46 AM ET 2003-10-07T10:46:46

Tropical Storm Olaf came ashore Tuesday just south of Puerto Vallarta and skirted north along the coast, pummeling the resort and lashing the coast with rain.The storm regained some of its former punch before hitting land.

EARLY TUESDAY, it was still packing winds of 50 mph but was expected to weaken as it moved up the coast at 6 mph. Olaf had earlier been a hurricane.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami warned of strong rain, winds and waves in the storm’s path.

In Puerto Vallarta, tourists hunkered down in hotels, children stayed home from school and businesses shut their doors. Workers piled sandbags to protect beachfront hotels, and authorities prepared emergency shelters for both residents and tourists as a precaution.

Puerto Vallarta — known for its white-sand beaches, scenic bay, restaurants and shopping — was heavily damaged a year ago by storm surges from Hurricane Kenna.

“Each hotel is passing on the information to warn tourists ... to take every precaution,” said Ludwig Estrada, regional director of tourism for the state of Jalisco, which includes Puerto Vallarta.

With the tourists high season still a month away, the city’s hotels were not even half full, officials said.

“I see some people who are not very worried and others who are taking precautions,” said Jacqueline Robinson, a tourist from California.

Authorities began evacuating 600 residents of communities at higher elevations of the city, worried that heavy rains could send the Elpitillal and Ameca rivers over their banks there. Officials also evacuated 60 patients from a public hospital as a precaution.

Another weather system, Tropical Storm Larry, which hit land at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday and faded to a tropical depression, triggered flooding in the southern state of Chiapas on Monday.

Cars were swept down city streets in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez and rescuers evacuated residents by boat from their homes. About 9 inches of rain fell on the city in 24 hours, state authorities reported.

The intense rains caused the Rio Sabinal River and several smaller rivers to overflow, flooding various communities outside the state capital.

Tropical Storm Nora, meanwhile, was downgraded to a depression as it headed east toward the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, a region that is still recovering from two hurricanes that hit in recent weeks.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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