- Category 2 Hurricane Agatha has begun to hit the Mexican beach towns of Oaxaca.
- The storm has maximum winds of 110 mph and promises heavy rain and waves.
- A meteorologist told Insider he was also expecting possible mudslides and infrastructure damage.
The hurricane, which could be the strongest in May, makes landfall in the eastern Pacific Ocean, threatening coastal Mexican cities.
Experts warn that Hurricane Agatha resolutely promises strong winds, strong waves and other dangerous events such as mudslides. The Category 2 hurricane, which formed on Sunday, is heading toward Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca and nearby tourist cities on the region’s Pacific southwest coast.
The storm’s outer reaches began hitting the area early Monday afternoon, with full landfall expected Monday afternoon or evening, according to a forecaster with AccuWeather, Inc. for predictions.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said Monday that Agatha — which has maximum sustainable winds of 110 miles per hour — could lead to “extremely dangerous coastal flooding” in the area where it is set to make landfall. The group added that people along the way should be prepared for “strong, life-threatening winds”.
“Since early last week, we’ve been monitoring the development potential of this system,” Paul Walker, chief meteorologist for AccuWeather, based in State College in Pennsylvania, told Insider. “You’re already starting to feel the outer edge of this storm along the coast and the winds are high,” he said of people in the Oaxaca region.
Walker added that AccuWeather expects the storm’s impact to include mudslides, landslides, road closures, scattered debris, downed power lines and damage to local infrastructure. Some locations could get up to two feet of rain, he said, with the NHC forecasting that this heavy rain could continue into Tuesday.
Recreational areas in danger
The storm is moving toward tourist sites, including the cities of Huatulco, Mazunte and Zipolite, the Associated Press reported Sunday, adding that authorities in Huatulco have ordered a “total closure” of beaches in the area.
Some areas in the area, such as Puerto Escondido, are popular surfing destinations in the summer. Travel + Leisure described the city as a “surfers paradise” last year and praised it for its “legendary waves”.
As for the current storm’s likely path, Walker said, AccuWeather predicted that it could erode somewhat as it drifts away from its primary power source — the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean — and across the mountainous terrain of the Oaxaca region.
Walker said Agatha may turn steadily to the northeast and cross into the Atlantic Ocean in the coming days. At this point, he added, the storm could form again somewhere over the northwest Caribbean, possibly later in the week or over the weekend.
“It is unusual for a hurricane to occur in the eastern Pacific at this time of year,” Walker said, noting that only two other hurricanes made landfall in the area from 1971 to 2021. One was in 1971 — also called Hurricane Agatha — and the other Hurricane Barbara came in 2013. Those storms were less powerful than this current storm when it made landfall, with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour. Walker said.
When asked if he thought climate change might have affected Agatha’s formation earlier than usual or its excessive strength, Walker cautioned that it would be difficult to make such a connection without more information.
But he said, “Sea water is much warmer – so it definitely adds more energy to it.”
Are you in Oaxaca or in an area threatened by Hurricane Agatha? From a safe place, reach out to insiders to share what you see. Reed Alexander’s email at [email protected] Or by SMS/encoded app reference at (561) 247-5758.
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