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Tropical Storm Gamma drenches coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

Tropical Storm Gamma
(NOAA)

Tropical Storm Gamma hit the resort-dotted coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula at near-hurricane force on Saturday, flooding streets, knocking down trees and stranding people trying to return from outlying islands.

The storm came ashore near Tulum with maximum sustained winds of nearly 70 mph — 4 mph short of hurricane force, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

By midafternoon, winds had dipped to 65 mph, and it was centered about 35 miles north-northwest of Tulum, moving to the northwest at 8 mph.

Forecasters said the biggest threat to the area, which recently reopened to tourism after a pandemic shutdown, was likely the torrential rain and possible flooding, with as much as 10 to 15 inches possible over the northeastern part of the peninsula.

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The state’s tourism department reported Friday on Twitter that more than 41,000 tourists were present in Quintana Roo, with hotels in Cancun and Cozumel already at more than 30% occupancy.

Social media accounts of Quintana Roo’s state government showed police removing people from vulnerable shacks and removing downed trees.

The storm forced suspension of sea ferry services between Cancun and Playa del Carmen with the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres.

The storm was projected to emerge from the northern edge of the Yucatan on Sunday and then curve toward the west-southwest into the lower Gulf of Mexico, flinging heavy rain across a large part of southern Mexico and Central America.

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Meanwhile, powerful Hurricane Marie began to weaken Saturday over the open Pacific.

Marie was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph Friday evening, according to the Hurricane Center, but winds dipped to Category 3 status, 125 mph, by Saturday.

It was centered about 1,150 miles west of the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula and was headed to the northwest at 9 mph.

Forecasters said it shouldn’t pose a threat to land.


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