Hurricane Grace hit Mexico’s Gulf shore as a major Category 3 storm before weakening on Saturday, drenching coastal and inland areas in its second landfall in the country in two days.
The storm had lost power while crossing over the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, swirling through Mexico’s main tourist strip, but it rapidly drew in power from the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico before reaching the Mexican coast again late Friday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Grace, downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday, had maximum sustained winds of 110 km/h. It was centred about 40 kilometres north-northeast of Mexico City, southeast of Tuxpan and heading west-southwest at 20 km/h.
Grace lost strength as it swirled inland over a mountain range carrying its heavy rains toward the heart of the country, including the Mexico City region. Forecasters said it could drop 15 to 30 centimetres of rain, with more in a few isolated areas — bringing the threat of flash floods, mudslides and urban flooding.
Tropical Storm <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Grace?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Grace</a> Advisory 33: Grace Weakening Rapidly Over Land But Still Causing Very Heavy Rains and Flooding Over Portions of East-Central Mexico. <a href=”https://t.co/VqHn0u1vgc”>https://t.co/VqHn0u1vgc</a>
Hours before nearing shore on Friday, Grace caused strong winds, high waves and rain in the Veracruz communities of Tuxpan, Poza Rica, Xalapa and Veracruz city, as well as in coastal towns in the states of Tabasco and Tamaulipas, Mexico’s meteorological agency said.
Fishermen pulled their boats out of the water and carried them inside harbours to prevent damage as the storm’s leading edge whipped at the coast. Merchants boarded up the windows of their businesses to protect them.
A road next to a convenience store is flooded in Costa Esmeralda on Saturday. Grace was carrying its heavy rains toward the heart of the country, including the Mexico City region. (Yahir Ceballos/Reuters) Cancelled flights, power outages
Civil protection authorities in Veracruz said Grace had caused power cuts and brought down trees. Video footage and photos posted on social media showed damage to buildings, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Television footage showed flooding in Ciudad Madero in the southern reaches of the state of Tamaulipas near the border of Veracruz. Mexican state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos’s (Pemex) Francisco Madero refinery is in Ciudad Madero.
Mexico City’s international airport said some flights had been cancelled due to the hurricane. And national power utility the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) reported 565,000 electricity users had been affected by outages.
A woman stands amid the debris of her destroyed home in Costa Esmeralda on Saturday. (Yahir Ceballos/Reuters)
Authorities expect the central states and the Mexican capital to receive the impact as a tropical storm, with strong gusts and intermittent rains during the weekend.
Heriberto Montes Ortiz, head of the General Technical Sub-Directorate of Mexico’s National Water Commission, said Grace could cause rivers and streams to swell, along with flooding in low-lying areas, landslides and damage to roads and highways.
The agency was monitoring rivers, dams and communities expected to see heavy rain, particularly in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo and Tlaxcala.
Toppled banana trees are seen at a plantation in Costa Esmeralda on Saturday. (Yahir Ceballos/Reuters)
The hurricane hit early Thursday near Tulum, a Yucatan resort town famed for its Mayan ruins. Some families passed harrowing hours sheltering from cracking trees and flying debris.
There were no reports of deaths, but many streets were blocked by fallen limbs and trees that pulled down power lines, leaving thousands in the dark on Thursday.
Quintana Roo state Gov. Carlos Joaquin said the storm had knocked out power to some 84,000 customers in Cancun and 65,000 in Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventura and Tulum.
Grace also doused Jamaica and Haiti, still reeling from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, with torrential rain.
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