PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Mexico ( Associated Press) — Agatha made history as the most powerful hurricane to make landfall in May during the Pacific storm season, after making landfall in a sparsely populated stretch of tourist beaches and fishing towns in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. in southern Mexico.
The storm made landfall Monday afternoon as a powerful Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h), but quickly lost strength as it moved inland.
It weakened to a tropical storm overnight, with sustained winds of 70 mph (110 km/h). The US National Hurricane Center said it could dissipate overnight, but warned heavy rainfall from the system could cause dangerous flash flooding in southern Mexican states.
Torrential rains and hurricane-force winds shook palm trees and forced tourists and residents to shelter in shelters. The State Civil Protection Coordination of Oaxaca showed images of families entering a shelter in Pochutla and of a landslide and stones that blocked a highway.
The intense rainfall and large waves hit the coastal town of Zipolite, known for its nudist beaches and bohemian atmosphere.
“There is a lot of rain and suddenly very strong air,” said Silvia Ranfagni, administrator of the Casa Kalmar hotel in Zipolite, who decided to stay in the establishment. “The sea looks very rough and it’s raining a lot (…) It’s already starting to be strong and you can hear the noise of the wind.”
In the town of Puerto Escondido, popular with surfers, people took cover and boarded up doors and windows to protect them from the wind.
The Mexican Turtle Center, a former slaughterhouse adapted as a conservation center in Mazunte, announced that it will be closed to visitors until further notice due to the storm’s passage.
Agatha formed just on Sunday and quickly gained strength. It was the most powerful landfalling meteor ever recorded in a month of May in the eastern Pacific, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections and founder of Weather Underground.
Hurricanes in the region are often caused by tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa, he added.
“Since the African monsoon doesn’t typically start producing tropical waves until early to mid-May, there simply aren’t enough initial disturbances to have many hurricanes in the eastern Pacific in May,” Masters wrote in an email. “Also, the water temperatures in May are cooler than at the peak of the season.”