20,000 Tourists Stuck in Hotels As Hurricane Olaf Hits Baja California

An estimated 20,000 tourists were stuck in their hotels as Hurricane Olaf hit the Los Cabos resort area at the tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula.

The storm hit the area Friday with torrential rains, and emergency workers evacuated residents from low-lying neighborhoods at risk of flooding to shelters. Foreign tourists at resorts in the area were forced to wait out the storm inside their hotels.

Dozens of domestic and international airline flights were canceled because of the hurricane, said Lilzi Orcí, president of the Los Cabos Hotels Association, leaving tourists visiting Baja California stranded with no way to return home until the weather passed.

Orcí said that while COVID-19 pandemic restrictions meant the hotels were at less than 40 percent of their capacity, she estimated there were about 20,000 foreign tourists in the area.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Hurricane Olaf hits Baja California
An estimated 20,000 foreign tourists were stuck in their hotels as Hurricane Olaf hit the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. A general view of the city of La Paz at night during the entry of Hurricane Olaf on Sept. 9, 2021 in La Paz, Mexico. Alfredo Martinez/Getty Images

The storm came ashore near San Jose del Cabo late Thursday as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Early Friday, Baja California Sur Civil Defense Deputy Secretary Carlos Alfredo Godínez said he had received no reports of lives lost.

At least 700 people were in designated shelters. Some hotels experienced minor damage.

As the storm came ashore, some motorists were stranded inside their cars in high water. But the Cabo San Lucas Fire Department reported only fallen trees and power lines.

Officials closed ports and schools in the area, suspended COVID-19 vaccinations and told many nonessential workers to stay home. Businesses had boarded up windows and people lined up for last-minute purchases in supermarkets ahead of the storm.

Some roads already had been cut by flooding ahead of the full storm's arrival, according to local news media.

By morning, the storm was centered about 35 miles west-southwest of the state capital, La Paz, where a new governor was scheduled to be inaugurated on Friday. More than 500,000 people live in the La Paz-Los Cabos region.

Maximum sustained winds had slipped to about 80 mph and it was expected to weaken further while grinding along the peninsula's coast during the day and then heading out into the Pacific.

Hurricane-force winds extended as far as 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 80 miles.

The Hurricane Center forecast 5 to 10 inches of rain on the southern part of the peninsula, with up to 15 inches in isolated spots, creating the danger of flash floods and mudslides.

Hurricane Olaf
An estimated 20,000 foreign tourists were stuck in their hotels as Hurricane Olaf hit resorts in Baja California, Mexico. This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Olaf on the Pacific coast of Mexico approaching the Los Cabos resort region at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES via AP