Major Hurricane Odile will start to rake Mexico’s Baja California Sur, including the resort area of Cabo San Lucas, later today with pounding surf, heavy rains and powerful winds, all of which may topple trees and power lines and create life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Odile, a category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, had top winds of 135 miles (218 kilometers) per hour and was 230 miles south of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, moving northwest at 14 mph, the Miami-based hurricane center said in advisory at 10 a.m. Mexico City time.

“The core of Odile will be pass near or over the southern portion of Baja California Sur tonight and Monday,” the advisory said.

Odile, considered a “dangerous hurricane” by the center, prompted Mexico to issue weather warnings along the coast line of the peninsula, as well as on the mainland. A hurricane warning along the coast of the peninsula from Punta Abreojos to La Paz meaning the storm will certainly strike soon.

“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the center said.

As category 4 storm, Odile is the second-strongest type of tropical system and is classified as a major hurricane, according to the weather center. Its winds reach out about 45 miles from its center and its tropical-storm strength extends about 185 miles.

Toppling Trees

Storms of this strength can uproot trees, topple power lines causing outages that last for weeks and tear the roofs off buildings, according to the center.

Odile is forecast to maintain strength as it nears the southern tip of the peninsula overnight, the hurricane center said. It may grow slightly stronger in the next 24 hours.

The way hurricanes are organized in the northern hemisphere, Odile will bring its northeast side, usually the most powerful, on the Baja California peninsula during the next few days, said Carl Erickson, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

This may result in high onshore winds and a dangerous storm surge bringing coastal flooding to regions in the hurricane warning area, the center said. Winds should begin to rise later today in advance of the storm’s closest approach.

“The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the center said.

Precipitation Expected

Along with that, widespread heavy rain is forecast for Baja California Sur, as well as the Mexican states of Colima, Jalisco and western Michoacan to the east, the center said. Those regions may receive as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, with some isolated locations getting even more.

While Odile may pass about 50 to 75 miles off shore, there is a chance its path may jog and it may have a direct hit on the peninsula, Erickson said by telephone.

“Intense hurricanes can wobble a bit,” Erickson said.

Odile will lose strength as it parallels the Baja California coast through early next week, Erickson said.

The hurricane center calls for Odile to deteriorate into a depression, the weakest form of tropical system, by the end of the week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net. 

Photo Credit: Playa del Amor in Cabos San Lucas. Karen Blaha / Flickr