MEXICO CITY — About 1,400 people sought refuge at storm shelters in the Los Cabos resorts at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula on Thursday as a strengthening Tropical Storm Lidia closed in on an area just to the north.
Lidia spread rains over a broad swath of Mexico, including Mexico City, where it was blamed for flooding that briefly closed the city’s airport. An enormous sinkhole about 30 feet in diameter opened on a street in downtown Mexico City because of an accumulation of water.
Civil Defense Commissioner Luis Felipe Puente said strong winds and rain were already lashing Los Cabos at midday. Authorities also warned residents to prepare for a possible dangerous storm surge.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Lidia could produce total accumulations of as much as 8 to 12 inches across much of Baja California Sur state and western Jalisco state on the mainland, threatening flash floods and landslides.
Lidia had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph at midafternoon and some further strengthening was possible before landfall later Thursday. Its center was about 20 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas and heading north-northwest at 8 mph.
The storm was predicted to move northward about half way up the peninsula over the next two day before turning out into the Pacific.
Far out over the Atlantic, meanwhile,formed while following a course that could bring it near the eastern Caribbean Sea as a Category 4 storm by early next week. Its maximum sustained winds increased to near 115 mph earlier Thursday.
Irma was moving west-northwest near 12 mph and that general motion was forecast to continue through early Friday.
Forecasters said Irma likely would become a major hurricane by Thursday night and was expected to be an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days.
No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.
Over in Texas, more than a dozen refineries across the Gulf are closed, including those operated by ConocoPhillips outside Houston and Exxon Mobile in Baytown — the nation’s second largest,