Hurricane Grace makes landfall in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

Grace strengthens into a hurricane as it moves toward Mexico

After striking Haiti and impacting other Caribbean islands this week as a tropical storm, Category 1 Hurricane Grace hit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico on Thursday morning.

The storm made landfall near Tulum, to the south of Cancun, around 4:45 a.m. CDT, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Grace’s arrival will bring strong winds, a dangerous storm surge and heavy rains to much of the eastern coast of the Yucatan, including Cancun, Cozumel and Punta Herrero, according to the NHC.

The area has been under a hurricane warning since Tuesday due to Grace becoming better organized as it moved west, battering Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Peak wind gusts measured so far at Playa del Carmen are at 85 mph, with 80 mph winds measured at Cancun, making the storm a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Central and northern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula may get 4 to 8 inches of rainfall with isolated amounts of up to 12 inches, which could lead to flash and urban flooding.

Swells across the area are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, according to the NHC.

The current track of the storm has it exiting into the Bay of Campeche as a tropical storm after losing some strength over the Yucatan. It is then forecast to regain intensity over open waters and will threaten the Mexican mainland by Friday night into Saturday, potentially again as a Category 1 hurricane.

The Yucatán Peninsula is no stranger to storms during hurricane season. Last August, Tropical Storm Marco skimmed the tip of the peninsula and in October Hurricane Delta and Hurricane Zeta struck the peninsula, knocking out power, felling trees, shattering windows and causing flooding in cities and towns along the Caribbean coast.

“We’re taking precautions, buying milk, sugar, water and cookies because we don’t know how long we’ll be shut in,” said 21-year-old homemaker Adamaris García, standing in a line of dozens of people at a small store.

Johanna Geys, of Munich, Germany, was having a beer in Tulum Wednesday afternoon. It was her first time in Mexico and Grace would be her first hurricane.

“We don’t know how it is (in hurricanes), ” said Geys, a 28-year-old waitress. People have been telling her it won’t be bad.

“For a tourist, this hurricane is really bad because we all have activities scheduled for certain days and if you cancel it impacts our vacation,” said Keny Sifuentes, a 19-year-old from Colombia, in Cancun with his family.

State authorities said that as of last week, the region was hosting about 130,000 tourists and hotels were more than half full despite the pandemic.

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