Hurricane Newton makes landfall again in Mexico after killing two

Firefighters cut the trunk of a fallen tree in the aftermath of Hurricane Newton in Los Cabos, Mexico, Sept 6, 2016.
Firefighters cut the trunk of a fallen tree in the aftermath of Hurricane Newton in Los Cabos, Mexico, Sept 6, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

HERMOSILLO, Mexico (AFP) - Tropical storm Newton roared into northwestern Mexico early on Wednesday (Sept 7), making landfall a second time after leaving two people dead in Baja California, US forecasters said.

Downgraded from a hurricane, the storm swept into mainland Mexico and was expected to head to the United States, weakening on the way.

It hit the Mexican state of Sonora with winds of 110kmh, the US National hurricane centre said.

The storm was expected to dump eight to 15cm of rain in Sonora, before traveling to the US states of Arizona and New Mexico later in the day, the Florida-based weather center said.

After coming ashore for the first time early on Tuesday, the storm uprooted trees and shattered windows, leaving two dead in Baja California, as thousands of tourists hunkered down in hotels in the Los Cabos resort area.

But the region, which is very popular with US and Canadian tourists, managed to escape major damage, two years after Hurricane Odile ravaged Los Cabos, killing six people and causing US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) in damage.

"According to the latest reports, #Newton only caused minor damage in infrastructure," President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter, saying there were no injuries.

The winds eased from their earlier intensity and Newton was expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Wednesday evening, the hurricane center said.

The storm caused a large swell that sank a shrimp fishing boat between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific ocean, leaving two people dead and three missing, said Los Cabos civil protection director Marco Antonio Vazquez.

The two bodies washed ashore on a beach. Vazquez said the boat had ignored warnings against going out to sea.

Vazquez said Newton's winds took down trees and tin roofs from poorer neighborhoods, but he said a disaster was averted because the hurricane passed through rural, sparsely inhabited areas.

Some hotel windows broke, but 14,000 tourists in Los Cabos were "safe" in rooms made to shelter them, said state tourism secretary Genaro Ruiz Hernandez.

Some 1,500 people took refuge in shelters in the resort town but many returned home, Vazquez said.

Power was cut to parts of Los Cabos and La Paz and the phone service was also disrupted.

Police confirmed arresting five people for trying to loot two convenience stores in Los Cabos, with officers stationed outside several shops to prevent the kind of looting seen after Odile.

Local airports closed late Monday, while small boats were barred from using the ports in case of a storm surge in low-lying areas. Schools were also shut.

North of Los Cabos, trees also fell in La Paz and locals boarded up shop windows, with 400 people evacuated from vulnerable areas.

The storm was expected to bring up to 30cm of rain in Baja California Sur and as much as 25cm in several Pacific coast states, which could trigger flash floods and mudslides.

The weather system caused damage in the country's south over the weekend before transforming into a tropical storm, flooding 1,400 homes in Guerrero state and leaving three dead in Chiapas.