Hurricane Grace, which became overnight “a major hurricane” of category 3, made landfall Saturday morning on the east coast of Mexico with winds up to 205 km / h, announced the U.S. Hurricane Center (NHC).
The hurricane hit the northern coast of the state of Veracruz, near the municipality of Tecolutla, at 06:00 GMT, and the region is on alert for flooding and landslides.
“Grace has quickly become a major hurricane,” the NHC had said overnight, upgrading it to Category 3, shortly after initially classifying it as Category 2.
A Category 3 hurricane can damage coastal homes and buildings, knock down trees and signs and cause flooding in coastal areas, the Mexican Water Commission said on social media.
According to forecasts, as it makes landfall, the hurricane is expected to start losing strength, especially when it hits mountain ranges. However, the state of Veracruz has many powerful rivers, which presents many risks of flooding.
In the port of Veracruz, businesses have laid out boards and protection on windows and doors, while fishermen have sheltered 300 boats.
“We will spend many days without fishing, almost a week, we are affected as 35,000 fishermen because we can not go out,” said to AFP Isabel Pastrana Vázquez, president of the Federation of Fishing Cooperatives of Veracruz.
Call to take refuge on high ground
Residents secured their homes after stocking up on canned goods and water.
By late Friday afternoon, most roads in Veracruz were closed, and the Mexican armed forces are mobilized to help the population.
“I join the call that is being made to ask the people of the region of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to take refuge in the heights, with relatives or in shelters that are being installed,” tweeted President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The authorities announced that they have set up 200 shelters and are ready to activate another 2,000 if necessary.
This will be the second time that Grace will reach Mexico, after having passed there on Thursday without causing any deaths or major material damage. Then classified as Category 1, it had made landfall Thursday morning near the resort town of Tulum, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Planes were grounded and tourists were forced to spend the night in dedicated shelters.
Grace was downgraded to a tropical storm over land. But then it picked up strength in the Gulf of Mexico, more than expected.
Neighboring El Salvador announced a precautionary alert because of the rains related to the hurricane that could hit it.