Originally Published: September 16, 2014 6:03 a.m.
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico - Hurricane Odile blazed a trail of destruction through Mexico's Baja California Peninsula on Monday that leveled everything from ramshackle homes to luxury hotels and big box stores, leaving entire neighborhoods as disasters zones.
About 30,000 tourists were being put up in temporary shelters in hotels and Los Cabos international airport remained closed. Emergency officials reported that 135 people were treated for minor injuries from flying glass or falling objects, but there were no serious injuries or deaths so far.
Odile, which made landfall near Cabo San Lucas the previous night as a powerful Category 3 hurricane, toppled trees, power poles and road signs along the main highway, which at one point was swamped by rushing floodwaters. Countless windows were blown out of rental cars and high-end hotel rooms, and resort facades crumbled to the ground.
"From what we have seen around here, everything is pretty much destroyed," said Alejandro Tealdi, a 32-year-old resident of Cabo San Lucas. His home was damaged and suffered some flooding, but nobody was hurt. "In the seven years I've been here, I've never seen anything hit like this."
In Arizona, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for most of the state from 11 a.m. Wednesday through Thursday evening, with rains continuing through the weekend.
According to Mike Langevin at the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, the storm is weakening from hurricane status to that of a tropical storm and, by the time it reaches Arizona, will likely be considered a tropical depression.
Although the storm is the result of a hurricane, Langevin said the expected rains are still considered affiliated with monsoon, which lasts through the end of September.
NWS reports a 40 percent chance of rain today, increasing to an 80 percent chance on Wednesday.
As always with storms of this strength, local officials are primarily concerned with driving conditions. Hugh Vallely of the Yavapai County Emergency Management said the prospect of this storm is reminiscent of a 2013 storm that flooded several areas county-wide and led to a vehicle washing away near Williamson Valley Road.
"When we have problems, it's usually because somebody is trying to cross where they shouldn't," Vallely said, adding that, "There's a lot of intensity in this storm."
Police officials echoed those concerns. Prescott Police Department Lt. Ken Morley cautioned motorists to slow down, and to stay out of low-water crossings once they are running, even if the gates are not yet shut.
"It takes the city a little while to get them all closed during a storm," Morley said.
And Yavapai County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn, noting that at least one person died in the Tucson area in recent storms, advised that road conditions can change rapidly during a weather event.
"Remember," D'Evelyn said, "never to assume the road you travel every day has retained the same surface under flooded conditions. Road properties can change quickly under a flash flood condition, especially if the surface was weakening to begin with."
D'Evelyn also provided a cautionary list:
Cars can easily stall in the water and be carried away in any current;
Most vehicles will be swept away by less than two feet of running water;
Do not try to cross a flooded road or stream in your vehicle;
Heed all flood and flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service;
Do not drive around barricades at low-water crossings;
Be especially vigilant at night or when traveling on unfamiliar roads;
Do not cross flowing water;
Observe any water level indicators at low-water crossings, remembering that six inches of water may be enough to cause you to lose control of your vehicle;
Appreciate how fast water can rise;
Be aware that beneath the water's surface, roadbeds may have been washed away;
If you choose to abandon your vehicle, respect the force of the water. Six inches of fast-moving water will knock you off your feet.
Prescott Fire Department Division Chief Don Devendorf noted that three local fire stations have bags and sand available for residents in need of sandbags. Those locations are Station 71, 333 White Spar Road, Station 51 at Iron Springs Road and Williamson Valley Road and Station 73 at the Prescott Municipal Airport.
Devendorf advised residents to bring a shovel as the sandbag offerings are "self-service."
Residents can find additional sandbag material locations by going to this website:http://www.regionalinfo-alert.org/
Courier City Editor Mark Duncan contributed to this story.