Hurricane Agatha hits the Pacific coast of Mexico

(Mexico City) The strongest typhoon on record made landfall in the eastern Pacific Ocean in May, hitting an area of ​​tourist beaches and fishing villages in southern Mexico on Monday.

Updated yesterday at 8:33 PM.

Heavy rain and strong hurricane winds Agatha They whipped palm trees and drove tourists and residents to shelters in a sparsely populated area except for a few small communities along the beach.

The Oaxaca State Civil Defense Agency showed families scrambling at a shelter in Pochotla as well as landslide and mud blocking the highway between that city and the state capital.

After training on Sunday, Agatha It quickly gained strength and made landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane Monday afternoon, according to the US National Hurricane Center. Agatha It made landfall about 10 kilometers west of Puerto Angel with winds of up to 165 km/h, but soon began to lose steam as it moved inland.

noaa photo via The Associated Press

And in the evening, the wind speed dropped to 130 km / h. The storm was moving northeast at 13 km/h, heading toward the Gulf of Mexico, where its remnants could appear again.

Near Puerto Angel, high winds, torrential rain and rough waves are beginning to hit the coastal town of Zipolite, long known for its no-fuss beach and bohemian vibe.

“There is a lot of rain and sudden winds,” said Silvia Ranvagni, manager of the Casa Calmar Hotel in Zipolite. The ocean is really fickle and it rains a lot. You can hear the howling of the wind. »

National emergency officials said they have formed a task force of more than 9,300 people for the area and more than 200 shelters have been opened as meteorologists have warned of a dangerous storm surge and flooding due to heavy rain.

In the western surf town of Puerto Escondido, people took shelter and finished laying plywood to prevent windows from shattering in high winds.

Photo by Jose de Jesus Cortes (Reuters)

Fishermen pull their boats ashore for safety as bad weather begins.

Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections and founder of Weather Underground, explained that hurricanes in the region typically originate from tropical waves coming from African shores.

“Because the African monsoons typically do not start producing tropical waves until early or mid-May, there are simply not enough initial disturbances to cause many cyclones in the eastern Pacific in May,” Mr. Masters wrote in an email. The water temperature in May is cooler than at the height of the season, and wind shear is generally higher.”

Masters wasn’t sure about thatAgatha It was launched by a tropical wave – areas of low pressure that cross the tropics – but the storm took advantage of warm water and weak wind shear.

The US National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to drop between 250 and 400 mm of rain over parts of Oaxaca with isolated heights of up to 500 mm, raising fears of flooding and mudslides.

In Huatulco, municipal authorities have closed schools and ordered a “total closure” of all beaches and its seven bays, many of which can only be reached by boat.

The Mexican Turtle Center — a former slaughterhouse turned conservation center in Mazunte — has announced that it is closed to visitors until further notice due to the hurricane.

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