Barra De Navidad: People left low-lying shore neighborhoods, hotels dragged in beach furniture, officials set up shelters and one of Mexico`s biggest cargo ports shut down as powerful Hurricane Jova headed for a Tuesday landfall near this Pacific resort.
Jova was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph (193 kph) early Tuesday, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said there could be some fluctuations Tuesday. But the center said Jova was expected to be a major hurricane as its eye neared the coastline in the afternoon or evening, and is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near where it makes landfall.
The forecast track would carry its center near Barra de Navidad, which is south of the larger resort of Puerto Vallarta.
Jalisco state authorities evacuated about 500 families late Monday from their homes on the coast near Colima state, said Alejandro Arias, Puerto Vallarta`s civil protection director, after a meeting with state authorities.
Authorities shut down the port of Manzanillo, the biggest cargo center on Mexico`s Pacific coast, and the nearby port of Nuevo Vallarta. Officials were evaluating whether to close down the port in Puerto Vallarta, said Laura Gurza, chief of the federal Civil Protection emergency response agency.
The Mexican government declared a hurricane warning for a 100-mile (160-kilometer) stretch of coast from just south of Puerto Vallarta to a point south of Manzanillo. A tropical storm warning was in effect farther south, to the port of Lazaro Cardenas.
Hotel employees taped up windows, cleaned out water channels to avoid flooding and pulled in all beach furniture.
In the idyllic beach resort of Barra de Navidad, most tourists had left town but those who stayed continued to enjoy themselves late Monday.
Bill Clark, a 59-year-old tourist from Santa Rosa, California, ate tacos at a street stand while enjoying a balmy night.
"Some people are going out of town but I`m not really worried," said Clark, who has been coming to the town since 1994. "I`m from California, I have been through earthquakes."
In the town of 3,000 people, authorities readied two elementary schools to serve as storm shelters, but as of late Monday no one had taken refuge, city councilman Ricardo Rodriguez said.
Gurza said at least 65 shelters had been opened along the coast in the states of Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit.
There were perhaps a couple of hundred tourists left in Barra de Navidad and the nearby beach town of Melaque, said Armando Martinez, an employee of the civil defense department of Cihuatlan, the township that includes both towns.