Remnants of Hurricane John Reach U.S.

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The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 5, 2006; 8:46 AM

EL PASO, Texas -- Heavy rain flooded roads in the Southwest on Monday as the rapidly weakening remnants of Hurricane John spread across the border from Mexico, where up to 20 inches had fallen on parts of the Baja Peninsula.

A half-mile section of Interstate 10 near downtown El Paso was closed by water Monday morning, police spokesman Javier Sambrano said.

Normally dry southern New Mexico got enough rain to cause isolated road flooding, southern Arizona had scattered rain, and showers were possible in desert areas of Southern California through Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, rain flooded at least 20 neighborhoods, knocked down electricity poles and caused several traffic accidents. Hundreds of people were evacuated from one neighborhood because of concerns about a nearby dam that exceeded its capacity, said Luz del Carmen Sosa of the city's public safety department.

In Mexico, three people were killed across the Baja California peninsula, including a British man who died when his camper was swept away by floodwaters and two Mexicans who drowned in strong river currents, said Victor Guluarte, the state's interior secretary. A total of 160 houses on the peninsula lost their roofs and four houses collapsed, officials said.

In the El Paso area, where almost 3 inches of rain had fallen since Friday, no injuries or evacuations were reported, unlike during storms about a month ago that washed out roads and chased people out of their homes.

"We haven't seen a replay of what we saw several weeks ago," Sambrano said. "We've been very fortunate because it's actually been nonstop rain throughout the night."

A Continental Airlines jet got stuck in mud Monday at El Paso International Airport when it steered off the taxiway as it was headed toward the terminal after landing, airline spokeswoman Julie King said.

No one was hurt, other flights were not affected and passengers were shuttled to the terminal by bus. The airplane remained in the mud late Monday afternoon, and the Federal Aviation Administration was investigating the cause of the mishap, airport spokeswoman Liz Bellegrade said.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood watches or warnings Monday for parts of southern New Mexico and parts of West Texas and the Southern California deserts.

Carlsbad, N.M., reported curb-to-curb water on the streets from three days of rain. Several low-lying roads in the area were closed, but dispatchers said none were major thoroughfares and there were no serious problems.

In Ruidoso Downs, conditions were muddy for the running of the $2 million All American Futurity quarter horse race, the biggest day of horse racing in New Mexico.

Heavy rain on Sunday shut down the 8th annual Harvest Wine Festival in Las Cruces, N.M., the first time the festival had ever been rained out, organizers said. The Las Cruces airport reported more than 2 inches of rain in 3 hours Sunday.

John was a Category 2 hurricane with sustained wind of 110 mph when it struck near the southern tip of Baja on Friday, but officials reported only minor damage. The area hardest hit was La Paz, the capital of Baja California del Sur state.

"Fortunately there is no human loss and the impact (in terms of damage) is relatively modest," Mexico President Vicente Fox said Sunday as he toured the city and pledged to help residents whose homes had been damaged.

By early Monday, the storm's maximum sustained wind had slowed to about 30 mph, well below the 39 mph threshold for a tropical storm, as it slowly moved northwestward up the spine of the narrow Baja Peninsula.


© 2006 The Associated Press

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