MEXICO CITY — Hurricane Agatha, the first hurricane of the season, headed to a tourist beach and fishing town on Mexico’s South Pacific coast on Monday, warning of dangerous storm surges and flooding from heavy rains.
After forming on Sunday, Agatha quickly gained strength and is expected to make landfall as a powerful Category 3 hurricane on Monday afternoon or evening, National Hurricane Center Say.
It is moving to the area around Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel in the southern state of Oaxaca — an area that includes recreational tourism destinations such as Huatulco, Mazut and Zipolite.
This Hurricane Center Said Agatha could “bring extremely dangerous storm surges and life-threatening winds”.
Agatha had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph late Sunday – just 1 mph below the Category 3 threshold, Hurricane Center Say. The center of the storm was about 140 miles southwest of Port Angeles and was moving northeastward at 6 miles per hour.
A hurricane warning is in effect between the port of Salina Cruz and Lagunas de Chacahua.
Oaxaca’s civil protection office said the outskirts of the hurricane had hit the coast on Sunday. The office posted photos of fishermen tugboats on the beach to protect them from the storm.
The municipality of Huatulco has ordered the “absolute closure” of all of the resort’s beaches and its famous “seven bays,” many of which are only accessible by boat. They also closed local schools and began building emergency storm shelters.
On the east side of Zipolite, long known for its clothesless beaches and bohemian vibes, the staff at the small Casa Kalmar hotel collected outdoor furniture and installed wooden storm shutters to prevent strong winds from blowing glass windows and doors.
“The biggest concern here is the wind,” said hotel manager Silvia Ranfagni.
With just one guest — and with numerous cancellations due to the hurricane — Ranfagni planned to leave Agatha on horseback at a hotel three or four blocks from the beach.
“I’m going to keep myself and my animals here,” she said, referring to her dog and cat.
The government’s Mexican Turtle Center – a former slaughterhouse turned conservation center in Mazut – announced it was closed to tourists due to the hurricane until further notice.
This National Hurricane Center It said the storm is expected to drop 10 to 16 inches of rain in parts of Oaxaca, with an isolated maximum of 20 inches, posing a threat of flash floods and mudslides.
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