Deadly Tropical Storm Gamma has stalled just north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, while a potentially more threatening Tropical Storm Delta has formed in the Caribbean
Gamma lashed Mexico’s resort-studded coast with near-hurricane force winds, and drenched Tabasco and Chiapas states with a deluge that killed at least 6 people and forced thousands from their homes.
Mexico’s civil defense agency said in a statement that four of the deaths blamed on Gamma, including two children, were in Chiapas, where a landslide on a mountainous slope buried their home. The other two deaths were in Tabasco state, where one person was dragged away by the water and another drowned..
Gamma, along with cold fronts, combined over the weekend to cause extreme rains in parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas, affecting more than half a million people. The hardest-hit state was Tabasco, where more than 3,400 were evacuated to shelters.
The storm came ashore Saturday near Tulum with maximum sustained winds of nearly 70 mph (110 kph) — 4 mph (9 kph short of hurricane force), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Thousands of tourists were affected in a resort area that only recently reopened after a pandemic shutdown: 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.
Mexican authorities continued to warn people in the Yucatan on Monday as Gamma stalled offshore. The hurricane center said early Monday that Gamma was about 170 miles (275 kms) northeast of Progreso, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (95 kph). Forecasters predicted up to 8 more inches of rain in the states of Yucatan, Campeche and Tabasco, producing significant flash flooding.
Delta is the earliest 25th named storm to form in the Atlantic, beating the old record of Nov. 15, 2005, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
Delta had top winds of 40 mph (65 kmh) early Monday and was about 270 miles (440 km) southeast of Grand Cayman. It was moving near 9 mph (15 kmh), on track to hit the Cayman Islands Monday night and approach western Cuba Tuesday afternoon or evening before moving into the Gulf on Wednesday.
A tropical storm warning was issued for the Cayman Islands and a hurricane watch was in effect for western Cuba and its Isle of Youth. Forecasters warned of heavy rainfall, flash flooding and mudslides in parts of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and western Cuba.