‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Lidia slams into Mexico coast, killing 1

PUERTO VALLARTA (Reuters) -Hurricane Lidia plowed into Mexico’s Pacific coast at the beach town of Las Penitas on Tuesday evening as a powerful Category 4 storm, killing at least one person as resorts hunkered down to shelter from lashing rain, powerful wind and flooding.

Authorities in the state of Nayarit said a person was killed when a tree fell on the van he was driving north of the major tourist destination of Puerto Vallarta.

In Puerto Vallarta, residents boarded up windows and dragged sacks of sand from the beach to reinforce flood barriers on their storefronts, and the airport said it would shut down until 8 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Wednesday.

The city’s streets were empty by nightfall, as strong winds hurled water across its palm-lined promenade and shook buildings.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Lidia was of “extremely dangerous” strength and blowing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (225 kph) in the state of Jalisco.

“I urge people living between Nayarit and Jalisco, especially in Bahia de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta and Tomatlan, to take precautions,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, telling people to stay away from low-lying areas, rivers and slopes.

Social media videos showed heavy rain as far as the inland city of Guadalajara. Some people reported fallen trees blocking roads and rivers threatening to burst their banks.

The Miami-based NHC said Lidia was moving east-northeast at 16 mph (26 kph) and should weaken quickly as it barrels inland.

A hurricane warning is in effect from the Islas Marias to the inland town of El Roblito in Nayarit state to the port city of Manzanillo, while tropical storm conditions could extend as far as Michoacan state and southern parts of Sinaloa.

Lidia is expected to dump up to 8 inches (20 cm) of rain, though some areas could see up to 12 inches through Wednesday, the NHC said.

Farther south, Tropical Storm Max killed two people and injured at least two in the state of Guerrero, according to media reports.

Lidia comes eight years after Patricia, a Category 5 hurricane – the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale – struck close to Puerto Vallarta with winds that tore down trees, moved cars and forced thousands of people to flee from their homes.

(Reporting by Cristian Ruano in Puerto Vallarta and Raul Cortes, Brendan O’Boyle, Isabel Woodford and Sarah Morland in Mexico City; Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Stephen Coates, Sandra Maler and Sonali Paul)