Hurricane Lidia barrels inland after slamming Mexico coast; one dead

By Christian Ruano

PUERTO VALLARTA (Reuters) -Hurricane Lidia slammed into Mexico's Pacific coast late on Tuesday as an "extremely dangerous storm", bringing powerful wind and lashing rain and killing at least one person, though it weakened to a Category 2 storm as it barreled inland.

Authorities in the state of Nayarit said a man was killed when a tree fell on the van he was driving north of the major tourist destination of Puerto Vallarta.

Lidia made landfall by the small beach town of Las Penitas just before 6 p.m. (0000 GMT) as Category 4 storm.

In Puerto Vallarta, residents boarded up windows and dragged sacks of sand from the beach to reinforce flood barriers on their storefronts, and the airport said it would shut down until 8 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Wednesday.

The city's streets were empty by nightfall, as strong winds hurled water across its palm-lined promenade and shook buildings.

By 9 p.m. (0300 GMT), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Lidia was blowing maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 kph) as it passed near the inland town of Mascota in Jalisco state.

The Miami-based NHC said Lidia was moving east-northeast at 17 mph (28 kph) and should weaken quickly as it moves over elevated terrain in west-central Mexico.

"Life-threatening hurricane-force winds are expected along the path of the storm overnight," it said, warning of dangerous water levels, flash flooding and swells on the Pacific coast.

Social media videos showed heavy rain as far as the inland city of Guadalajara. Some people reported fallen trees blocking roads and rivers threatening to burst their banks.

"I urge people living between Nayarit and Jalisco, especially in Bahia de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta and Tomatlan, to take precautions," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, telling people to stay away from low-lying areas, rivers and slopes.

A hurricane warning is in effect from the port city of Manzanillo, Colima to San Blas in Nayarit, while tropical storm conditions could extend as far as Michoacan state.

Lidia is expected to dump up to 8 inches (20 cm) of rain, though some areas could see up to 12 inches through Wednesday, the NHC said.

Farther south, Tropical Storm Max, which made landfall Monday, killed two people and injured at least two in the state of Guerrero, according to media reports.

Lidia comes eight years after Patricia, a Category 5 hurricane - the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale - struck close to Puerto Vallarta with winds that tore down trees, moved cars and forced thousands of people to flee from their homes.

(Reporting by Christian Ruano in Puerto Vallarta and Sarah Morland, Raul Cortes, Brendan O'Boyle, Isabel Woodford in Mexico City; Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Stephen Coates, Sandra Maler and Sonali Paul)