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Hurricane Blanca Weakens as it Nears Baja California Peninsula, Officials Warn of Floods

by Cassandra Vinograd /  / Updated 

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Hurricane Blanca barreled toward the Baja California Peninsula on Sunday, weakening slightly as officials warned of the storm's "erratic" behavior and the potential for life-threatening floods.

Blanca — which gained strength into a Category 4 hurricane before weakening slightly into a Category 3 and then falling to Category 1 later Sunday morning — was packing maximum sustained winds near 90 miles per hour, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Swells generated by the storm were affecting the coast of southwestern Mexico and southern Gulf of California and the National Weather Service said the waves could produce "life-threatening surf and rip current" conditions.

The hurricane was centered about 180 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and was moving north-northwest near 12 mph at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.

The NHC said Blanca was expected to weaken to a tropical storm before it reached the southwestern coast of the Baja California Peninsula later Sunday. Still, it warned Blanca could drop between 6 to 10 inches of rain which in turn could trigger "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides."

The director of Mexico's National Water Commission, Roberto Ramirez, said he was concerned about Blanca's "erratic" behavior and warned residents along the coast to be prepared for intense rains, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported that 2,000 army troops and 1,321 marines were put on alert in Baja California, ahead of the storm.

A hurricane watch was in place for Cabo San Lucas, which is still recovering from Category 3 Hurricane Odile which ravaged the area in September and was the strongest storm there in 25 years.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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