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Category 3 Hurricane Grace crosses over Mexico’s Gulf coast

The storm rapidly drew in power from the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico as it moved towards the country’s mainland.

A road sign brought down by the winds of Hurricane Grace lays on the side of the highway in Tulum, Mexico.
A road sign brought down by the winds of Hurricane Grace lays on the side of the highway in Tulum, Mexico.
Image: AP Photo/Marco Ugarte

HURRICANE GRACE HAS crossed over Mexico’s Gulf shore as a major Category 3 storm, drenching small fishing towns and beach resorts as it made its second landfall in the country in two days.

The storm had lost power while crossing over the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, swirling through Mexico’s main tourist strip, but it rapidly drew in power from the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico as it moved towards the country’s mainland.

The US National Hurricane Centre said Grace had maximum sustained winds of 125mph early today when it made landfall about 30 miles south-south-east of Tuxpan.

Forecasters said Grace will quickly lose strength as it swirls inland over a mountain range carrying heavy rain towards the heart of the country, including the Mexico City region.

Forecasters said it could drop 6-12 inches of rain, with more in a few isolated areas — bringing the threat of flash floods, mudslides and urban flooding.

embedded261821463 Damage in Quintana Roo state. Source: Marco Ugarte/AP

Hours before nearing shore, Grace caused strong winds, high waves and rain in the Veracruz communities of Tuxpan, Poza Rica, Xalapa and Veracruz city as well as in coastal towns in the states of Tabasco and Tamaulipas, Mexico’s meteorological agency said.

Fishermen pulled their boats out of the water and carried them inside harbours to prevent damage as the storm’s leading edge whipped at the coast, while merchants boarded up the windows of their businesses.

Authorities expect the central states and the capital to receive the impact as a tropical storm, with strong gusts and intermittent rain during the weekend.

Heriberto Montes Ortiz, the head of the General Technical Sub-Directorate of Mexico’s National Water Commission, said Grace could cause rivers and streams to swell as well as flooding in low-lying areas, landslides and damage to roads.

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The agency is monitoring rivers, dams and communities expected to see heavy rain, particularly in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo and Tlaxcala.

The hurricane hit early on Thursday near Tulum, a Yucatan resort town famed for its Mayan ruins.

There were no reports of deaths, but many streets were blocked by fallen trees that pulled down power lines, leaving thousands in the dark.

Most businesses remained closed yesterday, and the few that opened drew long queues of people waiting to buy food.

Quintana Roo state governor Carlos Joaquín said the storm had knocked out power to 84,000 customers in Cancun and 65,000 in Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventura and Tulum.

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