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Hurricane Rick, still 'a major storm,' already being felt in Cabo San Lucas area

October 19, 2009 |  8:38 am

A wave generated by Hurricane Rick breaks outside of the San Jose del Cabo area on Monday morning.
Hurricane Rick is tracking toward southern Baja California and although it continues to weaken, the National Hurricane Center still refers to it as "a major storm," and residents and tourists throughout the region are bracing for the worst.

Rick, which on Saturday packed 180-mph winds and was the second strongest eastern North Pacific hurricane on record, is now a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. At 8 a.m. Monday its center was located 375 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas. It's expected to make landfall in that area, still as a hurricane, late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

One man reportedly was killed Sunday after being swept into the water and jetty rocks in San Jose del Cabo.

Flooding and high winds are expected. Airline travel probably will be disrupted. Plans are being made to relocate residents in vulnerable areas to shelters. Fishing fleet operators and private boat owners are still working to remove vessels from marinas or at least into sheltered areas within marinas.

In Cabo San Lucas, this includes more than 100 wealthy yacht owners entered in the Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament, which was scheduled to begin Wednesday. Some have already fled toward Southern California. The three-day tournament, which offers about $3 million in prize money, might become a one-day affair on Friday -- if the storm passes quickly enough.

"Please keep your fingers crossed that Hurricane Rick does not hurt us too bad," Capt. George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing implored in a fishing report issued Monday morning. "We just had one huge noisy squall come, part of the feeder bands. Cats and dogs [are] hiding everywhere."

Tracy Ehrenberg, general manager of Pisces Sportfishing, wrote Monday on the fleet's blog: "Heavy rain fell for a while and wind picked up to about 25 mph, with some thunder and more lightning. We all thought, 'Wow, it's here already,' but this was just an isolated outer thunderstorm."

In nearby San Jose del Cabo, townspeople on Sunday were unable to rescue a man who was swept into the Sea of Cortez near the marina jetty as crews were trying to get boats out of the water. He was swept into the rocks and was killed, said Eric Brictson, owner of Gordo Banks Pangas.


"The surge is incredible and I think the guys who are waiting until [Monday to pull their boats] are going to have a hard time even reaching the ramp," Brictson said via e-mail Sunday night.

In the East Cape region between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz on the Sea of Cortez, "We are battening down the hatches once again," reports John Ireland, owner of Rancho Leonero Resort. "We have had the storm shutters up and down on the house five different times this season. This is very late in the season for a storm.  I really thought we were done."

Ireland is sending boats out fishing today but is pulling them onto land this afternoon. Similar preparations are being made in  La Paz and in coastal areas throughout much of the state of Baja California Sur. Most  of southern Baja is under a hurricane watch and that probably will be changed to a warning later today. 

-- Pete Thomas

Top photo: A wave generated by Hurricane Rick breaks outside of the San Jose del Cabo area on Monday morning. Credit: Eric Brictson

Hurricane graphic showing Rick's five-day trajectory as of 8 a.m. Monday is courtesy of the National Hurricane Center