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Hurricane Rick weakens to Category 1

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1 Hurricane Rick weakens to Category 1 on Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:13 pm


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Hurricane Rick was still more than a day away from the resorts of Baja California on Monday but the 13-foot waves it kicked up already have killed one person in Los Cabos, which lies almost directly in the hurricane's forecast path.
Francisco Cota, the Los Cabos civil defense director, said a 38-year-old man was standing on a rocky point fishing when he was swept away by one of the big waves Sunday. Bystanders went to help the man, but by the time they got him out of the water he was dead.

"We have established patrols on the beaches to keep people from going into the sea," Cota said.

CRUISE LOG: Powerful Hurricane Rick scatters cruise ships heading to Mexico

Forecasters say Hurricane Rick has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it approaches the resorts of Baja California.

A hurricane watch is out for Santa Fe southward on the west coast and from San Evaristo, Mexico, southward on the east coast, including Cabo San Lucas. The U.S. National Weather Service said more watches and warnings may be needed later Monday or Tuesday.

The center is expected to be near Baja California by late Tuesday or early Wednesday and approaching the western coast of mainland Mexico by late Wednesday.

Forecasters say winds have died down to 85 mph. At their peak, winds were at 180 mph as a Category 5 storm last week. As of 8 p.m. ET Monday, the eye was located about 305 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Authorities in Los Cabos were meeting Monday to decide whether to open shelters and begin evacuations.

Rick also threatened to disrupt a major sport-fishing tournament scheduled to start Wednesday. About 800 sports fishermen were scheduled to gather for the Bisbee's Los Cabos tournament, with about 130 boats scheduled to set off into the Pacific on Wednesday — the day Rick is projected to hit.

Tournament organizer Clicerio Mercado said the three-day event would not be postponed, though fishing in the first two days might be canceled because of Rick, possibly leaving it as a one-day event Friday.

Rick was already whipping Socorro Island, about 300 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, where about 100 people from the Mexican Navy and other government agencies are based.

The mainland base that commands the detachment said Navy personnel on the island reported heavy winds and waves on Monday, but no damage or injuries.

Forecasters said a weakening Rick is likely to continue past the Baja peninsula and slam into Mexico's mainland somewhere near the resort city of Mazatlan on Thursday.

Rick was the second-strongest hurricane in the eastern North Pacific since 1966, when experts began keeping reliable records, Hurricane Center meteorologist Hugh Cobb said.

The strongest was Hurricane Linda, which generated maximum winds of 185 mph in September 1997.

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