Hurricane Henriette threatened Mexico’s mainland Wednesday after punishing the Los Cabos resorts, while far to the south, the weakening remnants of Hurricane Felix dumped heavy rain over Central America, forcing thousands to flee.
Henriette, which killed at least seven people in its run along Mexico’s coast, apparently caused no deaths at it struck Los Cabos at the tip of the Baja California peninsula on Tuesday, but it remained dangerous. The hurricane’s top winds were about 75 mph, and little change in strength was expected before it hits the mainland coast south of Arizona.
At least three people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed when Felix slammed into Nicaragua’s remote Miskito Coast as a powerful Category 5 hurricane and pushed inland, dumping heavy rains.
Officials reported flooding in parts of northern and southern Honduras, where 27,000 people were evacuated. The storm passed near the capital of Tegucigalpa overnight and rain was still falling just before dawn.
Felix sparks flood alert
While it had faded to a tropical depression, officials in at least five nations were on alert for floods. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Felix could produce as much as 25 inches of rain in some remote areas.
Nervous residents still remember Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which parked over Central America for days, causing flooding and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing.
Eight hours after Felix hit land in Central America on Tuesday, the eye of Hurricane Henriette struck Baja California — the first time two Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes made landfall the same day, according to records dating back to 1949.
At 8 a.m. EDT, Henriette was centered about 60 miles west-southwest of Los Mochis on the Mexican mainland and it was moving north at 13 mph, the hurricane center said.
Hurricane warnings were posted from Topolobampo in Sinaloa state north to Bahia Kino. Henriette was expected to dump an inch or two of rain in parts of Arizona and New Mexico on Thursday night.
Henriette had claimed seven lives even before it strengthened into a hurricane. One woman drowned in high surf in Cabo San Lucas on Monday, and the storm caused flooding and landslides that killed six people in Acapulco over the weekend.
In Nicaragua, Felix slammed into Puerto Cabezas Tuesday with 160 mph winds, peeling roofs off shelters, knocking down electric poles and destroying or damaging some 5,000 homes, according to Lt. Col. Samuel Perez, Nicaragua’s deputy head of civil defense.
The Puerto Cabezas area has about 60,000 residents and 12,000 homes. Perez said one man drowned when his boat capsized, a woman was killed when a tree fell on her house and a girl died shortly after birth because the storm made it impossible for her to receive medical attention.
Nicaragua’s government declared the northern Caribbean region a disaster area.
In Honduras, the government was letting water out of dams in an attempt to reduce flooding, and 10,000 people were being evacuated from the capital.
President Manuel Zelaya said the densely forested region along Honduras’ border with Nicaragua served to break down Felix. He said he doubted the storm would bring the devastating mudslides and flooding triggered by Mitch.
Rain was pelting down in sheets late Tuesday in La Ceiba on Honduras’ coast and the streets were flooded waist-deep in water.
“The government hasn’t done its job. It hasn’t fixed the streets,” said 55-year-old Paco de Rivera.