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Marty Weakens Along Mexico’s West Coast

September 23, 2003

GUAYMAS, Mexico (AP) _ Marty weakened to a tropical storm as it barreled along Mexico’s western mainland coast, threatening to carry rainfall into the southwestern United States on Tuesday.

Earlier, Marty lashed the southern Baja California peninsula with hurricane-force winds flattening trees and knocking out power in the popular tourist destination that was hit hard by Hurricane Ignacio in August. Three deaths were attributed to the storm’s winds and flooding on Monday.

Downgraded Monday night to a tropical storm, Marty packed 70 mph winds as it headed for Puerto Penasco, less than 60 miles from the U.S. border.

The storm knocked out power to Guaymas, a fishing village and largest port in Sonora state. Phone lines went dead, the wind toppled neon hotel signs and water rose two feet deep in the city streets.

The storm’s heavy rains threatened to provoke ``life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,″ the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported.

Crossing the Baja California peninsula Monday, Marty struck a cardboard and wood shack in Cabo San Lucas where Epigmeo Lopez, 52, had been asleep in a hammock, authorities said. The storm blew off the shack’s roof, carrying the hammock with it and killing Lopez, who had moved to the region in search of work.

In the Baja California Sur state capital of La Paz, a car carrying two passengers was swept away by a flash flood, leaving one person dead and one missing, according to authorities. A 55-year-old man was killed on the mainland at Los Mochis when his truck was hit by a falling tree.

Some 1,200 people were evacuated to public shelters in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, both cities in Los Cabos, a resort region known for its golf courses and deep-sea fishing. Winds toppled a water tank, leaving an entire neighborhood without water.

Some hotels were forced to rely on candles and generators Monday. But most businesses seemed to have escaped major damage.

``This one wasn’t that big of a deal,″ Dennis Wolf, manager of the Hacienda Beach Resort in Cabo San Lucas, said by telephone. ``When the eye came over, it only lasted about an hour and a half. ... It’s pretty much out of here.″

One tourist counted himself lucky.

``It’s been an adventure,″ said Daniel Sepiol, 50, of Valparaiso, Ind., a guest from the Hacienda Beach resort who was in Los Cabos on a deep-sea fishing trip.

``It was a little frightening at first with all the high winds and rains but we survived,″ Sepiol said. ``Overall it could have been a lot worse.″

Sepiol’s Monday flight home was canceled, but he was hoping to be able to take off on Tuesday. ``I’ll be glad to get back to see my wife,″ he said.

At 2 a.m. EDT, Marty was located about 45 miles south-southwest of Bahia Kino, moving toward the north at 12 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Tropical-storm force winds extended outward 115 miles from the storm’s center. The storm’s greatest threat appeared to be from heavy rainfall. Marty was expected to deliver from 4 inches to 8 inches of rain near its path and more in its direct path.

Hurricane Ignacio battered the area August, flooding roads and uprooting palm trees in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and Loreto. Two soldiers working on aid operations were killed when their car was swept away by a rain-swollen river.


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