Friday, March 24, 2023

First hurricane of 2022, Agatha leaves for Mexico tourist cities

MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – The season’s first storm formed off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast on Sunday and rapidly gained strength as a major storm surged ahead of expected strike at tourist beaches and a portion of fishing towns.

Agatha could make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Monday afternoon or evening in the southern state of Oaxaca near Puerto Escondido and Puerto ngel – an area that includes the laid-back tourist resorts of Huatulco, Mazunte and Zipolite.

The US National Hurricane Center said that as of Sunday evening, the recently formed storm had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) — just 1 mph for Category 3. It was centered about 160 miles (255 kph) to the southwest of Puerto ngel and was moving toward the northeast at 5 mph (7 kph).

The center said winds of up to 120 mph (193 kph) could be expected in Agatha when it makes landfall.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect between the port of Salina Cruz and Lagunas de Chacahua.

The Office of Civil Defense in Oaxaca said the outer bands of the storm were already hitting the coast. The office published photos of fishermen hauling their boats to the beaches to protect them from the storm.

City officials in Huatulco ordered a “complete closure” of all the resort’s beaches and its famous “seven bays”, many of which are accessible only by boat. They also closed local schools and began setting up emergency storm shelters.

Formerly in Zipolite, long known for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe, personnel at the tiny Casa Calmar hotel assembled outdoor furniture and wood to prevent strong winds from blowing down glass windows and doors. installed storm shutters.

“The biggest concern here is the wind,” said hotel manager Sylvia Ranafagni.

With only one guest—and a lot of cancellations due to the storm—Ranfagni plans to ride Agatha on the property, which is three or four blocks from the beach.

“I’m going to lock myself in here with my animals,” she said, referring to her dogs and cats.

The government’s Mexican Turtle Center – a former slaughterhouse turned conservation center in Mazunte – announced that it has been closed to visitors until further notice due to the storm.

The US National Hurricane Center has warned of dangerous coastal flooding as well as large and devastating waves where Agatha makes landfall.

The storm was expected to bring 10 to 16 inches (250 to 400 millimeters) of rain in parts of Oaxaca state, with a maximum of 20 inches (500 millimeters), posing a risk of flash floods and mudslides.

Because the storm’s current path would take it to the narrow waist of the Isthmus of Mexico, the hurricane center said there was a chance that the remnants of the storm could re-emerge in the Gulf of Mexico.

In northern Guatemala, a woman and her six children were killed in a landslide at their home on Saturday, but the accident had nothing to do with Agatha.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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