(CNN) — Hurricane Odile made landfall at the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula late Sunday. Its gales whipped torrents of rain ashore, chasing visitors in popular tourist destinations into closed quarters.
Sarah McKinney was in Cabo San Lucas on maternity leave from her job in Arkansas, when the category 3 storm hit there with 125 mph winds at around 9:45 p.m. Pacific (12:45 a.m. Eastern).
She and her newborn daughter Madison had already evacuated out of harm’s way from their first hotel to a second one. But even there, the room roared like a wind tunnel, as Odile passed over.
At least 15,000 tourists were sharing her experience in Cabo, Mexican civil defense official Luis Felipe Puente said.
The storm is moving up the coast to the north-northwest at 16 mph, triggering hurricane warnings up to Santa Rosalia, the National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin. Its maximum sustained winds have tempered to 115 mph, and Odile is expected to further weaken.
McKinney piled up her belongings in the bathtub to protect them from the water seeping through the door to her room. She dammed it up with a mattress, but it still came in about an inch deep.
“I’ve cleared the beds and linen closets and have my daughter and I held up in the bathroom,” she told CNN.
Then the winds disappeared. Madison fell asleep.
“The pressure was horrific but now it is eerily calm – just how people describe when the eye passes over,” she said.
But then the winds smacked the hotel again, and McKinney headed back into the bathroom.
“The backhalf is definitely worse,” she posted to Twitter. “More debris and stronger winds and rain. Bedroom is getting soaked from water seeping in.”
Odile is expected to bring major flooding and “large and destructive waves” to Mexico’s Pacific Coast, the hurricane center said. Heavy rainfall could also cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, forecasters said.
Ports and beaches have been closed, and school classes and celebrations for Mexico’s Independence Day were canceled in Mexico’s Baja California Sur state. Mexican Independence Day is Tuesday, September 16.