Hurricane Blanca Churns Closer to Mexico's Baja Coast, Threatens Tourist Resorts

by Erik Ortiz and Jacquellena Carrero /  / Updated 

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

It's a one-two punch for Baja.

A handful of hotels in Mexico's Los Cabos resort remain shuttered after Hurricane Odile clobbered the popular tourist destination last September.

With the latest storm — Hurricane Blanca — still tracking toward the same region by early next week, hotel operators say they're watching the forecasts closely. But they're not ready to hunker down just yet.

"We know there will be rain and wind, but that's it," an optimistic Fernando Roldan, of the beachfront hotel Las Ventanas al Paraiso, told NBC News on Thursday.

He added that guests are being given the option to reschedule if they're nervous about the next few days.

Blanca is projected to make landfall somewhere between Cabo San Lucas and Puerto San Carlos on the southern Baja California peninsula Saturday night or Sunday, according to forecasts.

Hurricane Blanca weakened slightly to a Category 2 on Thursday, but could strengthen over the next 48 hours as it heads toward the peninsula, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Blanca, the second hurricane to form off Mexico's Pacific coast this year, has packed maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, the Miami-based NHC said in a report.

It had earlier been a powerful Category 4 storm on the five-step scale of hurricane strength.

Odile was a Category 3 when it ravaged Los Cabos — the strongest storm there in 25 years. The damage revealed how ill-prepared some of the hotel properties were, and tourists reported the lack of water and food, and even looting in some areas. Foreigners lined up desperately for hours in hopes of getting a rare flight out.

Since then, the hotels that became waterlogged and mangled by the ferocious winds have slowly reopened, some even adding additional amenities, said Claudia Avila, coordinator with the Cabo San Lucas Tourism Board.

She said about 10 percent of hotels remain closed since Odile, but are using it as an opportunity to do larger-scale renovations. Overall in Cabo, "recovery is already done mostly ... almost 100 percent," Avila said.

She added that whatever happens with Blanca, the hotels are ready. The local police also inspect the properties to ensure there is enough groceries and other essentials for at least 15 days, she said.

Hurricane Odile Strikes Baja California Sur
Palm trees stand in front of a hotel damaged by Hurricane Odile in Baja California Sur, Mexico, on Sept. 25, 2014.Carlos Aboyo / Getty Images

One hotel that still remains closed includes the Hilton Los Cabos, a beach and golf resort that beckoned tourists with "a new definition of luxury" but went dark for days after Odile. The upscale hotel expects to reopen by the end of the month.

Blanca, hopefully, shouldn't slow the ongoing reconstruction process down, said hotel assistant manager Analise Coli.

"I'm not really worried," she said. "I think it’s just going to be rain."

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
  • Contributors
  • Reuters
MORE FROM news