CANCÚN, MEXICO (AFP) – Hurricane Zeta slammed into Mexico’s Caribbean coast late Monday, bringing strong winds and heavy rains to the Yucatan Peninsula, where authorities warned residents and tourists to shelter indoors.
The hurricane, the second to hit the area this month, made landfall just north of the resort town of Tulum, the United States (US) National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Zeta had strengthened in the Caribbean from a tropical storm into a Category 1 hurricane – the weakest on a scale of five – packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometres per hour.
Authorities in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo ordered the suspension of work activities and shipping in the affected areas and opened shelters for people who felt unsafe at home.
“It will have an impact on almost the entire state,” Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin said in a video posted on social media.
In the resort city of Cancun, residents had stocked up on groceries as well as wood and tape to cover their windows, while motorists lined up to buy gasoline.
“It’s better to be prepared because with Wilma (a Category 5 hurricane that hit in 2005) we suffered a lot with no water, electricity or anything to eat,” said Cancun resident Lucia Castro.
Zeta was expected to bring a “dangerous storm surge” and possible flooding, the NHC warned.
The storm is likely to weaken as it moves over land before strengthening again over the Gulf of Mexico as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast of the US, it forecast.
On October 7, Hurricane Delta hit the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 2 storm, toppling trees and ripping down power lines, but without causing any deaths. Thousands of tourists were forced to spend the night in emergency shelters along the Riviera Maya coastline.