• The San Juan Daily Star

Grace heads toward Mexico’s mainland after landfall on Yucatán Peninsula

By The New York Times

Grace weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall as a hurricane Thursday morning just south of Tulum, Mexico, in the eastern Yucatán Peninsula, lashing the shoreline with winds of up to 80 mph.

Citing radar and satellite data, the National Hurricane Center said the storm came ashore around 4:45 a.m. Central time. It was expected to move over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico late Thursday through Friday.

A video shared by Mexico’s Civil Protection office showed the beach town of Tulum battered by powerful winds and heavy rain.

Carlos Joaquín, the governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, said on Twitter that the storm’s winds had dropped to 65 mph as it headed inland. “Let’s stay calm,” Joaquín said. “#TogetherWe’llMakeItThrough.”

The Mexican energy commission said 180,000 utility customers were without power across Quintana Roo and Yucatán states as a result of the storm. Flights were grounded at Cancun International Airport on Wednesday night, but the airport had resumed operations by late Thursday morning.

A hurricane warning was in effect for parts of the eastern coast of Mexico’s mainland, and a tropical storm warning was in effect for parts of the Yucatán Peninsula.

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 along the Caribbean coast.

By early Wednesday, authorities had already begun preparing for Grace, sharing photos on Twitter of dispatched equipment. By nightfall, some residents on the peninsula had relocated to shelters.

Water levels could rise 3-5 feet in parts of the eastern mainland coast of Mexico because of the storm surge, which could also produce “large and destructive waves,” the center said. Two feet of flowing water is enough to float a vehicle. The northern-central part of the peninsula was forecast to receive up to 8 inches of rain with isolated totals up to 12 inches through Friday.

Central and northern parts of Veracruz state in Mexico could get 6-12 inches of rain from Friday through Sunday, with isolated maximum totals of 18 inches, forecasters said. Heavy rain in Veracruz could cause flooding and possible mudslides, the center said.

This week, the storm’s heavy rains brought flooding in Haiti, hampering recovery efforts from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the country Saturday.

“That heavy rainfall can really lead to life-threatening flooding and mudslides and potentially urban flooding as well,” Michael Brennan, the branch chief of the center’s hurricane specialist unit, said Monday.

Grace is the seventh named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, following several days of floods and power outages unleashed this week by Fred, which made landfall Monday afternoon in the Florida Panhandle and moved inland across the southeast and mid-Atlantic.

A third Atlantic storm, Henri, formed Monday afternoon as a tropical storm off the East Coast of the United States, becoming the eighth named storm of the hurricane season. It was tracking 490 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on Thursday morning and was expected to remain well offshore before approaching southern New England on Sunday or Monday.

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