2/2 © Reuters. A man carries a fan and a box while walking past tourist boats that were moved from the water for safety as Hurricane Grace gathered more strength before reaching land, in Tecolutla, Mexico August 20, 2021. REUTERS/Oscar Martinez 2/2 By Tamara Corro TECOLUTLA, Mexico (Reuters) -Hurricane Grace battered eastern Mexico with torrential
© Reuters. A man carries a fan and a box while walking past tourist boats that were moved from the water for safety as Hurricane Grace gathered more strength before reaching land, in Tecolutla, Mexico August 20, 2021. REUTERS/Oscar Martinez
By Tamara Corro
TECOLUTLA, Mexico (Reuters) -Hurricane Grace battered eastern Mexico with torrential rain and howling winds early on Saturday, after becoming one of the most powerful storms in years to hit the country’s Gulf coast.
Grace was carrying top sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour) a Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, when it slammed into the coast near the resort town of Tecolutla in the early hours.
Federal authorities said much of central and eastern Mexico would be hit by torrential rain, but did not provide any early word of the damage caused by Grace.
Grace weakened as it moved inland but the National Hurricane Center warned of a dangerous storm surge – when sea water is pushed above its normal tide levels – as the hurricane struck the coast of the oil- producing state of Veracruz.
By 4 a.m. CDT (0900 GMT), it was a Category 2 storm with top winds of 110 mph (175 kph), and its center was about 45 miles (75 km) southwest of Tuxpan, the Miami-based center said. https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT2+shtml/210557.shtml
Before Grace hit land, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged people in five states to seek shelter.
“I ask the people of the regions of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to seek refuge in high places with relatives and in shelters that are being set up,” Lopez Obrador said on Twitter.
Thousands of emergency workers from the civil protection service, the military and state power utility Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) were prepared for Grace, he said.
Through Sunday, the NHC forecast Grace would dump 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) of rain over swaths of eastern and central Mexico, and up to 18 inches in some areas. The heavy rainfall would likely cause areas of flash and urban flooding, it said.
In Tecolutla, residents spent hours on Friday afternoon taking hundreds of boats onto land to keep them safe.
“Here in Tecolutla, we’ve had a culture of prevention for many years,” said Ricardo Pardinas, who offers boat tours to tourists. “These weather phenomena have caused damage.”
Grace was expected to weaken rapidly as it moved further inland and over mountainous terrain, and become a tropical storm by Saturday afternoon the NHC said.
Veracruz and its waters are home to several oil installations, including state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos’ port in Coatzacoalcos and the Lazaro Cardenas refinery in Minatitlan in the south of the state.
Grace hit land well to the north of these cities.
Earlier in the week, Grace pounded Mexico’s Caribbean coast, downing trees and causing power outages for nearly 700,000 people, but without causing loss of life, authorities said.
It also doused Jamaica and Haiti, still reeling from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, with torrential rain.