Hurricane Grace strengthened overnight from Friday to Saturday before reaching Mexico for the second time, where flood and landslide warnings were activated.
Saturday at 03:00 GMT, Grace was located 120 kilometers from Tuxpan, in the state of Veracruz (east), with sustained winds of 195 km / h, according to the American Hurricane Monitoring Center (NHC).
“Grace quickly became a major hurricane,” Category 3, said the NHC, which had reassessed it to Category 2 shortly before. The institute does not rule out the possibility that the hurricane will intensify further before making landfall overnight.
The hurricane “will affect in the coming hours the north coast of Veracruz, near the municipality of Tecolutla”, warned the Mexican Water Commission on social networks. It is the northern part of this state which should be the most affected, on a large coastal part.
A Category 3 hurricane can damage coastal homes and buildings, knock down trees and signs and cause flooding in coastal areas, says the Commission.
When it makes landfall, the hurricane is predicted to begin to lose strength, especially when it hits mountain ranges. However, the Veracruz has many powerful rivers, which keeps the authorities on the alert.
In the port of Veracruz, businesses have placed boards and protections on windows and doors, while fishermen have sheltered 300 boats.
“We will go many days without fishing, almost a week, we are affected like 35,000 fishermen because we cannot go out,” Isabel Pastrana Vázquez, president of the Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives of Veracruz, told AFP.
– Call to take refuge in height –
Residents secured their homes after stocking up on preserves and water.
“We are removing all the umbrellas (from the beach) that we had because the tide is rising,” Victor Morales, who runs a restaurant, told AFP.
The authorities have set up 200 shelters and are ready to activate 2,000 more if necessary. By late afternoon, most of the roads in Veracruz were closed.
Members of the Mexican armed forces stand ready to protect the people of Veracruz, said Laura Velázquez, national civil protection coordinator.
“I join the call that is launched to ask the inhabitants of the region of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to take refuge in the heights with relatives and in shelters that are being installed, “tweeted President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador.
This will be the second time Grace has reached Mexico, after spending there Thursday without causing any death or major property damage. Then classified in category 1, it made landfall Thursday morning near the seaside resort of Tulum, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. The planes had been grounded and tourists had to spend the night in dedicated shelters.
Grace had been demoted to a tropical storm on dry land. But then it regained strength in the Gulf of Mexico, more than expected.