October 1, 2005

Hurricane Otis weakens off Mexico’s Baja peninsula

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Otis weakened slightly on
Saturday as it ambled erratically toward Mexico's Baja
California peninsula on a path to expected Monday landfall in
sparsely populated semi-desert.

Otis weakened to a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step
Saffir-Simpson scale after strengthening to Category 2
overnight, but still packed 85-mph (140-kph) winds, according
to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Authorities evacuated some high-risk areas near Otis' path
as the hurricane center warned it would still pack a punch when
it ran aground early on Monday.

"Otis could still reach the Baja California peninsula as a
hurricane," the center said.

A large southern stretch of the Baja peninsula's western
coast was 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 away from the resorts but the hurricane center
warned any motion to the east of its forecast track could bring
its center near southern Baja California overnight.

Authorities, wary of heavy rain and wind gusts, evacuated
450 people mostly living near riverbeds and other high-risk
areas around the western-most resort of Cabo San Lucas.