Hurricane Agatha made landfall at 4 p.m. CT Monday just west of Puerto Angel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Weakening after it made landfall, Agatha was located about 65 miles north-northeast of Puerto Angel, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of about 70 mph as of 11 p.m. ET Monday. According to NHC, it was traveling northeast at 8 mph.
The National Hurricane Center warned of “extremely dangerous” coastal flooding from storm surge and “life-threatening” hurricane-force winds in the state Oaxaca. The rains will continue to fall in southern Mexico until Tuesday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to drop 10 to 16 inches of rain on parts of Oaxaca, with isolated maximums of 20 inches, posing a danger for flash floods and mudslides.
Near Puerto Angel, gusts of wind, heavy rain and big waves began lashing the beach town of Zipolite, long known for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe, on Sunday night. The skies were dark and the sand was bare in Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel, which are popular tourist destinations.
“There is a lot of rain and sudden gusts of strong wind,” said Silvia Ranfagni, the manager of Zipolite’s Casa Kalmar hotel. Ranfagni said that the ocean has been “really stirred up” and it is raining heavily. She plans to take Agatha with her on her ride around the property. You can almost hear the wind howling. “
National emergency officials said they had assembled a task force of more than 9,300 people for the area and more than 200 shelters were opened as forecasters warned of dangerous storm surge and flooding from heavy rains.
Jeff Masters, meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections and the founder of Weather Underground, said the region’s hurricanes typically get their start from tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa.
“Since the African monsoon typically does not start producing tropical waves until early- or mid-May, there simply aren’t enough initial disturbances to get many eastern Pacific hurricanes in May,” Masters wrote in an email. Masters wrote in an email that May’s water temperature is lower than at peak season and the wind shear is usually higher. “
Masters was not sure if Agatha was kicked off by a tropical wave — areas of low pressure that move across the tropics — but the storm has benefitted from warm waters and low wind shear.
Late Monday morning, Agatha accelerated slightly, as it moved toward the area near Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel in the southern state of Oaxaca. This region also includes Zipolite, Mazunte, and Huatulco.
In Huatulco, municipal authorities canceled schools and ordered “the absolute closure” of all beaches and its seven bays, many of which are reachable only by boat.
The government’s Mexican Turtle Center – a former slaughterhouse turned conservation center in Mazunte – announced it was closed to visitors until further notice because of the hurricane.
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