Hurricane Rick kills man, nears Mexico coast

Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:48pm EDT

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(Adds storm weakening to category 1, quote, background)

By Susy Buchanan

LOS CABOS, Mexico, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Hurricane Rick churned through the eastern Pacific Ocean toward Mexico on Monday, causing coastal sea surges that killed a man at a beach on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula.

Rick, forecast to brush Baja California's luxury resorts by Wednesday morning, weakened to a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) and was set to drop back to Tropical Storm intensity before brushing land.

A man from the nearby state of Sinaloa drowned on Sunday when he was caught up in pounding surf and pummeled against rocks at a beach near Los Cabos, local media said.

On Monday, business owners nailed plywood over their windows and residents collected sandbags as a hurricane warning was in place for the area. Some U.S. sports fishermen dropped out of a three-day fishing tournament scheduled for Wednesday that normally attracts dozens of Americans.

"I am totally sick of these storms. I'm ready to bang my head against the wall," said San Jose del Cabo resident Catherine Acevedo, who stayed home from work to stock up on gas, cash and provisions and put up her hurricane shutters.

Rick is the seventh hurricane of the eastern north Pacific season. Last month Jimena, a treacherous Category 4 hurricane, pummelled Baja California with whipping winds and rain, killing an elderly man whose house filled with floodwater.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned on Monday that rainfall of several inches could result in "life-threatening flash floods and mud slides" and said large sea swells over the next couple of days could cause dangerous surf conditions.

Many hotel guests were sanguine, however, waiting to see whether the storm would weaken in the hours ahead. "They see the hurricane kind of on a path leading away from Cabo," said Mauricio Balderrama, general manager of the Cabo Surf hotel.

By Monday evening, Rick was 305 miles (495 km) southwest of the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, moving northwest at around 7 mph (11 kph).

The NHC forecast further weakening over the next 48 hours, but officials in southern Baja California planned to evacuate 15,000 people from low-lying areas to storm shelters as the storm gets closer.

Mexico has no oil drilling facilities in the area and only a very small amount of its crude is shipped via the Pacific. (Writing by Catherine Bremer, editing by Philip Barbara)




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