Lidia remained dangerous even as it transitioned to a tropical storm late Tuesday, killing at least one person as it moved further inland from the west coast of Mexico and spreading life-threatening winds and heavy rains that unleashed some flooding, forecasters and officials said.
Lidia was about 85 miles north of Guadalajara at 11 p.m., hours after it made landfall nearby as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane. Its sustained winds reached 75 miles per hour, with stronger gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Officials in the neighboring state of Nayarit said that one man had died on Tuesday in the town of Punta Mita after strong winds felled a tree on the pickup truck he was driving.
Forecasters at the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, Mexico’s national weather service, warned of mud- and landslides, cresting rivers and sparks from downed power lines, among other potential dangers.
Gov. Alfaro said on social media that there had already been some flooding, but there had not yet been any reported deaths or injuries.
“I had never seen and felt a hurricane like this,” said Martha Ramírez, 60, a journalist in Puerto Vallarta who took refuge in the city hall, where the power was out and the internet connection was spotty.
Officials were also monitoring the water levels of rivers, including the Ameca, one of Mexico’s largest and deepest. In Nayarit, soldiers were deployed for rescues.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico earlier called on residents in the affected regions to “take refuge.”
Lidia has disrupted tourism in resorts along the Pacific coastline. It forced businesses to close in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, where beaches were vacated, tourists sheltered in their hotels, the airport shut down and hospitals braced for an influx of patients. Residents living near rivers or mountainous areas were asked to go to the government-run shelters, said a spokeswoman for Jalisco’s state government, Susana Rodríguez Mejía.
“We can’t go and control nature, but what we can do is protect ourselves,” Jesús Guillermo Carmona Jiménez, the president of the Hotel and Motel Association of Bahía de Banderas, said in an interview.
Puerto Vallarta was also hit by Hurricane Nora in August 2021, which caused the Cuale River to overflow and killed at least three people.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Pacific Coast of Mexico from Punta San Telmo to Manzanillo. Warnings were discontinued for other coastal areas in Mexico.
Lidia was expected to produce four to eight inches of rain — and in some areas up to 12 inches — through Wednesday across the state of Nayarit, southern portions of the state of Sinaloa and coastal portions of the state of Jalisco, the Hurricane Center said.
These rains were expected to produce flash and urban flooding, and mudslides were possible in areas of higher terrain near the coast. A “dangerous storm surge” was expected to cause significant coastal flooding, forecasters said.
“The rains will continue in the next 12 hours, they will intensify,” said Jerusalén Ceja García, a meteorologist at the Autonomous University of Nayarit, during a state council meeting on Tuesday.
Swells from Lidia were expected to affect the west coast of Mexico and the Baja California peninsula over the next few days, likely causing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Another hurricane made landfall in Nayarit in late October last year. That storm, Hurricane Roslyn, was a Category 4 storm that contributed to the deaths of four people, according to the Hurricane Center.
“That was a much more significant system,” Alex DaSilva, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said. “While we don’t expect it to be of that strength, we are always concerned about the flooding downpours.”
Areas inland on the west coast of Mexico have mountainous terrain, so heavy rain there can lead to mudslides, washouts and other flooding issues, he said.
Livia Albeck-Ripka, John Yoon, Johnny Diaz, Rebecca Carballo and Claire Moses also contributed reporting.