Agatha moves through southern Mexico as a tropical storm

Agatha, the first named storm of the year in the Eastern Pacific region, moved through southern Mexico Tuesday morning as a tropical sto...

Agatha, the first named storm of the year in the Eastern Pacific region, moved through southern Mexico Tuesday morning as a tropical storm, a day after making landfall as a Category 2 hurricane.

Agatha landed Monday afternoon just west of Puerto Angel, a fishing town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, with heavy rain and winds nearing 105 miles per hour – strong enough to uproot trees, cause significant power losses and tear off roofs of well-built houses. It was downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday evening.

As of 1 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Agatha was moving northeast at nearly 8 mph, the US National Hurricane Center said. said in a review. Parts of Oaxaca state could receive up to 16 inches of rain later today, with isolated amounts of 20 inches, the center said. Five to 10 inches were expected in the state of Chiapas, he added, and two to four inches in the states of Tabasco and Veracruz.

But Agatha’s maximum sustained winds had already diminished to around 60 miles per hour and the storm was expected to dissipate over Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, the Hurricane Center said.

Agatha’s arrival marked the first time a Category 2 storm made landfall in the eastern Pacific in May, said Dan Pydynowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.

Prior to Agatha, only two Category 1 hurricanes had made landfall in the region: Hurricane Barbara on May 29, 2013 and, coincidentally, Hurricane Agatha on May 24, 1971, Pydynowski said.

Home to surf spots, Oaxaca’s coast has long attracted tourists from around the world who are drawn to the golden sand beaches and laid-back vibe of the Pacific Rim. The seaside town zipolitenear where Agatha made landfall, has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, especially for the LGBTQ community.

The industry has been an important driver for the state’s economy. In 2019, before the pandemic decimated tourism in the region, more than 200,000 foreign tourists traveled to Oaxaca State, largely visiting the colonial capital of Oaxaca. But more than 80,000 foreigners have also chosen the beaches of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido.

The industry generated more than 159,000 jobs that year, according to government figures, and generated more than $29 million in revenue in those three destinations, a major economic boost for one of the most poor in Mexico.

Given the importance of tourism in Oaxaca, the arrival of a potentially devastating storm could be catastrophic for more than half a million people who call the coastal region home.

Alejandro Murat Hinojosa, governor of Oaxaca, said the country’s national defense, army, Mexican national guard and navy were deployed to respond to the hurricane.

Classes had been canceled along the coast on Monday and Tuesday, he said.

Footage shared on social media Monday morning showed residents of coastal Oaxaca bracing for the worst, including board buildings. Videos showed winds starting to pick up, throwing palm trees back and forth as the waves crashed with increasing ferocity.

Before the storm, Huatulco Hotels and Motels Association official Pia Overholzer said the town had about 60% occupancy with some 3,500 tourists.

Julián Herrera Velarde, representative of the Oaxaca Ministry of Tourism in Puerto Escondido, said the town had some 2,700 visitors, of whom only 40 had been moved to a temporary shelter.

While not as hurricane-prone as the Caribbean, Mexico’s Pacific Coast is no stranger to killer storms. In 1997, Hurricane Pauline hit the ribs Oaxaca and neighboring Guerrero, leaving more than 200 dead and some 300,000 homeless.

Most recently, in 2017, Tropical Storm Beatriz wreaked havoc across the state, causing widespread flooding and landslides. At least two people were killed and hundreds of families saw their homes damaged.

Agatha formed off the coast of Mexico and was appointed on Saturdayshortly after the official start of the eastern Pacific hurricane season, which runs from May 15 to November 30.

Atlantic hurricane season — the term used for storms that form in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean — runs from June 1 through November 30. These regions represent the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States, Mr. Feltgen says.

This year is set to be the first since 2014 that a hurricane has not formed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season. However, the season usually doesn’t reach its peak until mid-August to late October, and forecasters to predict above-average Atlantic activity this year, with 6-10 hurricanes and 3-6 major hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week.

If the prediction comes true, this year will be the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season.

Causes of the predicted hurricane intensity cited by NOAA include the weather pattern known as La Niña, which affects wind speed and direction, and a particularly intense monsoon season in West Africa, which produces waves that can lead to powerful and long-lasting storms. hurricanes.

Alex Traub, Vimal Patel, Derrick Bryson TaylorOmar Gasga, Oscar Lopez and Mike Ives contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Agatha moves through southern Mexico as a tropical storm
Agatha moves through southern Mexico as a tropical storm
Newsrust - US Top News
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