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Storm Octave on Mexico Pacific coast weakens
by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Oct 15, 2013

Plane missing as tropical depression hits Mexico
Mexico City (AFP) Oct 15, 2013 - Tropical depression Octave made landfall in western Mexico's tourist-friendly Baja California peninsula on Tuesday, while the bad weather disrupted the search for a missing plane carrying 14 people.

Octave had strengthened to tropical storm force on Monday, but it weakened before hitting the Pacific coast state of Baja California Sur on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

A small aircraft vanished on Monday after taking off from the tourist town of Loreto as the storm approached the coast, the state government said.

Residents told authorities they saw the plane flying low before it disappeared. The rain forced authorities to suspend the search late Monday.

Schools were closed for a second straight day in the state of Baja California Sur. School buildings were transformed into shelters.

The weather system is expected to dump heavy rain on Baja California Sur as well as on the states of Durango, Sinaloa, Sonora and Chihuahua.

Octave was carrying maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers (35 miles) per hour some 110 kilometers north of Bahia Magdalena, a tourist spot known for its gray whale sightings.

Meanwhile, a second system, Tropical Storm Priscilla, was churning some 905 kilometers from the southern tip of Baja California, the weather service said.

The new storms come almost one month after an unusual double blast from tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid, which left at least 157 people dead.

Tropical Storm Octave pummelling Mexico's Baja California peninsula fizzled overnight into a tropical depression, US weather forecasters said Tuesday.

Octave however is still forecast to dump heavy rain in the region, the US National Hurricane Center said in its 0600 GMT bulletin.

All tropical storm warnings for Octave had been canceled, as the storm's maximum sustained winds dropped to near 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour.

On the forecast track "the center of Octave or its remnants will be moving over the southern Baja California peninsula and the Sea of Cortez on Tuesday," the NHC said.

Mexico however is still preparing for potentially deadly flooding and landslides, as Octave is expected to drop between one and six inches of rain across Baja California and the mainland state of Sonora, "with isolated maximum amounts of eight inches possible."

The storm however may already have claimed victims: a single-engine Cessna 208-B plane with 14 people aboard went missing Monday after it took off from Loreto, a popular resort destination for Americans and Canadians in Baja California Sur state, officials said.

When the plane did not reach its destination a search was launched, but due to bad weather conditions related to Octave "we have unable to locate the airplane," read a statement from the secretariat of Communications and Transportation.

There was no immediate word on passengers on the plane which belongs to a charter company that flies between Baja California Sur and Sinaloa and Sonora states.

Octave arrives just three weeks after Mexico weathered the dual blast of storms Manuel and Ingrid.

At least 157 people were killed in the historic downpours, including 101 in the southern Guerrero state. Dozens were left missing in the mountainous village of La Pintada after a landslide buried a third of the community.

September's torrential rains left 1.7 million people homeless.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Priscilla, located some 600 miles (970 kilometers) southwest of the southern tip of Baja, weakened a bit, packing winds of up to 40 mph (65 kph), the NHC said.

Priscilla, which was heading north and forecast to soon turn northwest and away from land, was expected to also further weaken into a tropical depression on Tuesday, the Miami-based center said.


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