LA PAZ, Mexico (AFP) – Simon grew into a powerful category four hurricane Saturday as it swirled off Mexico’s Pacific coast, threatening resorts barely recovering from a recent storm.
But the system, currently far from land at 640 kilometres west-northwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, was not expected to make landfall as a hurricane but as a much weaker tropical depression on Thursday.
Just before 8:00 pm (0300 GMT Sunday), Simon was blasting top winds of 215 kilometres (134 miles) per hour, the US-based National Hurricane Center said.
It was just one rung below the strongest storms on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, and was the sixth category four hurricane of the season in the eastern Pacific.
National Civil Protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said a technical group was planning a strategy to respond to the cyclones.
“We must prepare shelters, mobilise food supplies and prepare for the evacuation of people in high-risk areas,” said Baja California Sur government secretary Andres Cordova.
The NHC said Simon had likely reached its “maximum intensity” and would begin to weaken gradually once it moves over cooler waters.