CANCUN – Hurricane Zeta, the 27th named storm in a very busy Atlantic season, made landfall on the Caribbean coast of the eastern Yucatan Peninsula late Monday while whipping the resorts around Tulum with rain and wind.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Zeta came ashore just north of Tulum with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph).
Quintana Roo state Gov. Carlos Joaquín had warned that “nobody should be on the streets ... you shouldn’t go out anymore” until the hurricane passed.
Zeta was predicted to lose some power while crossing the peninsula, before regaining hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday while heading for the central U.S. Gulf Coast and a likely landfall Wednesday night. A hurricane watch was posted from Morgan City, La., to the Mississippi-Alabama state line.
In Playa del Carmen, between Tulum and Cancun, Mexican tourist Elsa Márquez held up her beach towel Monday so it flapped in the wind, rattling with the strong gusts Monday a few hours before Zeta's arrival.
“This is our first experience (in a hurricane) and the truth is we are a little afraid because we don't know what will happen, but here we are,” said Márquez, who was visiting the resort from the north-central state of Queretaro.
Another tourist, Mario Ortiz Rosas from the western state of Michoacan, looked at the rising waves, noting: “I didn’t plan for this, but it looks like it is going to get complicated.”
Some boats that normally carry tourists in Cancun took refuge in a nearby lagoon channel, anchored among the mangroves to avoid the battering wind, waves and storm surge. Boat captain Francisco Sosa Rosado noted they had to perform the same maneuver barely three week ago, when the area was hit by a stronger Hurricane Delta, which made landfall with top winds of 110 mph (175 kph).