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By Susy Buchanan
LOS CABOS, Mexico (Reuters) - Hurricane Rick churned through the eastern Pacific Ocean towards Mexico on Monday, causing coastal sea surges that killed a man at a beach on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula.
Rick, forecast to brush Baja California's luxury resorts by Wednesday morning, weakened to a Category 2 storm but was still packing powerful 100 mph (160 kph) winds with higher gusts.
A man from the nearby state of Sinaloa drowned on Sunday when he was caught up in pounding surf and pummelled against rocks at a beach near Los Cabos, local media said.
On Monday, business owners nailed plywood over their windows and residents collected sandbags as a hurricane warning was in place for the area. Some U.S. sports fishermen dropped out of a three-day fishing tournament scheduled for Wednesday that normally attracts dozens of Americans.
"Large swells generated by Rick will continue to affect portions of the southern Baja California coast and the west-central coast of Mexico during the next couple of days, causing potentially dangerous surf conditions," the U.S. National Hurricane Centre said.
Many hotel guests were sanguine, however, waiting to see whether the storm would weaken in the hours ahead. "They see the hurricane kind of on a path leading away from Cabo," said Mauricio Balderrama, general manager of the Cabo Surf hotel.
By Monday afternoon, the hurricane was about 325 miles (525 km) southwest of the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, moving northwest at around 7 mph (11 kph).
The NHC said further weakening was likely over the next 48 hours, but officials in southern Baja California said they planned to evacuate 15,000 people from low-lying areas to storm shelters as the storm gets closer.
Rick is the seventh hurricane of the eastern north Pacific season. Mexico has no oil drilling facilities in the area.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)