October 1, 2005

Hurricane Otis strengthens off Mexico’s Baja coast

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Otis edged toward
Mexico's Baja California peninsula on Saturday after winds
strengthened overnight to 100 mph (160 km/p/h), leading
authorities to evacuate some high-risk areas near its path.

Otis, a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale,
was due to hit land in a sparsely populated part of the
peninsula early on Monday, according to the U.S. National
Hurricane Center in Miami.

"The center of Otis is currently forecast to remain west of
southern Baja California. However ... any motion to the right
of the forecast track could bring the center near southern Baja
California today," the center said.

A large southern stretch of the Baja peninsula's western
coast was put on hurricane warning.

The storm was 140 miles west-southwest of the Los Cabos
beach resorts at the peninsula's southern tip, popular with
U.S. tourists for its golf courses and yachting.

Otis veered slightly away from the resorts but the
hurricane center warned it would likely turn toward the north
and pick up forward speed over the next 24 hours.

Authorities wary of heavy rain and wind gusts evacuated 450
people mostly living near river beds and other high-risk areas
around the westernmost resort of Cabo San Lucas.