MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – Hurricane Agatha, the eastern Pacific’s first of the season, headed for tourist beaches and fishing towns on Mexico’s southern coast on Monday amid warnings of dangerous storm surge and flooding from heavy rain.
After forming on Sunday, Agatha quickly regained strength, and is predicted to make landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane on Monday afternoon or evening, the US National Hurricane Center said.
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It was moving to the region near Puerto Escondido and Puerto ngel in the southern state of Oaxaca – an area that includes the relaxing tourist resorts of Huatulco, Mazunte and Zipolite.
The Hurricane Center said Agatha could “bring an extremely dangerous storm and deadly winds.”
The Hurricane Center said that early Monday, Agatha had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) — just 1 mph below the threshold for Category 3. The center of the storm was moving to the southwest of Puerto ngel about 65 miles (110 kph) and to the northeast at 6 mph (9 kph).
According to the Hurricane Center, a slight change in strength was expected prior to the storm’s arrival. A Hurricane Warning was in effect between the port of Salina Cruz and Lagunas de Chacahua.
The Office of Civil Defense in Oaxaca published photos on Sunday of fishermen taking their boats to beaches to protect them from the storm as the opening bands moved to land.
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.
To the west at Zipolite, long known for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe, personnel at the tiny Casa Calmar Hotel assembled outdoor furniture and vents to prevent strong winds from blowing off glass windows and doors. Install wooden 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 said the storm was expected to bring 10 to 16 inches (250 to 400 millimeters) of rain to parts of Oaxaca, with a maximum of 20 inches (500 millimeters) of rain, posing a risk of flash floods and landslides. Will go