LOS CABOS, Mexico — Hurricane Juliette, packing winds of 125 mph, tracked northwest along Mexico’s Pacific coast Wednesday, leaving behind flooded homes and rivers.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami called the storm a potential threat to Baja California, but said computer models showed it was likely to skirt land, gradually weakening and turning west.
The threat of the storm further emptied the nearly deserted Los Cabos resort, which was already suffering a sharp drop in tourism after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
"We called our hotel ‘the ghost hotel,’ because nobody was there," said Tracy Mercado, 31, of San Diego, who cut her vacation short and was at the airport looking for a flight back to the United States.
Storms born off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast rarely cause major problems for the United States.
Forecasters called the Category 4 storm still dangerous even though the winds had dropped from a peak of 145 mph. Juliette is a massive system with hurricane-force winds reaching 70 miles from its center and tropical storm-force winds felt 260 miles from the vortex.
Authorities said Juliette’s barometric readings, one measure of a storm’s strength, were the second-lowest ever recorded in a Pacific hurricane in the Western Hemisphere, after Hurricane Ava in 1973. Hurricanes feed off low-pressure cells over warm ocean waters.
Heavy rain brought by Juliette flooded more than 200 homes in the southwestern state of Michoacan, and the Mexican army sent transport and rescue aircraft, medical teams and emergency supplies.
Rain-swollen rivers knocked out two bridges in Oaxaca state, farther down the coast.
Several southern Pacific ports were closed because of high seas. Heavy rain warnings were posted for most of the southern Mexican coast. The port of Acapulco reopened after the storm passed to the northwest.
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