Cancun, Mexico, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- Hurricane Delta made landfall before dawn Wednesday on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexican authorities said.
After reaching Category 4 on the ascending five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the storm weakened to a Category 2 before reaching Mexico, though it is expected to re-strengthen when it moves back over the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Water Commission (Conagua) said Delta crossed the coast at Puerto Morelos, which lies between Cancun and Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo state, at around 5.30 am (10.30 GMT).
Speaking later at President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s daily morning press conference in the capital, navy Rear Adm. Juan Carlos Vera said the hurricane made landfall on the offshore island of Cozumel at 5.45 am with maximum sustained winds of 160km/h (99mph).
Conagua said on Twitter that weather stations in the area clocked wind gusts of up to 240km/h (150mph) amid bands of torrential rain.
Civil defense said 95 trees were toppled in Quintana Roo and that many households and businesses in Cancun and Cozumel lost power.
Officials have received no reports of fatalities, Vera said, while urging residents in northern Quintana Roo not to drop their guard.
“It can be that to the people who are now experiencing the eye of the hurricane – it has a radius of approximately 20km – it will appear calm and that it’s all over, but they shouldn’t trust that,” the admiral said.
Mexican forecasters and the US National Hurricane Center said that the storm surge from Delta would push water levels in northern Quintana Roo to as much as 2.7m (9 ft) above normal tides.
The government established an emergency command post in Cancun under the direction of Navy Secretary Jose Rafael Ojeda, national civil defense coordinator Laura Velazquez Alzua and Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez.
Nearly 40,000 tourists and residents were evacuated Tuesday ahead of the storm’s arrival and around 2,700 people were staying at the 74 shelters opened in Quintana Roo and neighboring Yucatan state.
More than 7,500 military personnel were deployed to the Yucatan Peninsula to help deal with the emergency, along with 650 utility workers and staff from other government agencies.
The Quintana Roo Tourism Department said Tuesday night that it had taken more than 30,000 visitors under its protection and had established contact with the relevant diplomatic missions to activate the “Guest Locator” system for tracing people’s whereabouts.
Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center began using letters of the Greek alphabet after exhausting the list of 21 preselected names.
The storm will become a threat to the Gulf Coast of the United States later this week. EFE