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October 7, 2020 11:15 AM, EDT

Hurricane Delta Makes Landfall in Mexico

A lifeguard tower lies on its side in Cancun, Mexico, on Oct. 7, after being toppled by Hurricane Delta.A lifeguard tower lies on its side in Cancun, Mexico, on Oct. 7, after being toppled by Hurricane Delta. (Victor Ruiz Garcia/Associated Press)

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CANCUN, Mexico — Hurricane Delta made landfall Oct. 7 just south of the Mexican resort of Cancun as an extremely dangerous Category 2 storm, downing trees and knocking out power along the northeastern coast of Yucatan Peninsula, but without immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said satellite imagery, radar data from Cuba and surface observations in Mexico indicate that the center of Delta came ashore around 5:30 a.m. local time, sustaining top winds of 110 mph.

Civil defense official Luís Alberto Ortega Vázquez said there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries, but Delta had toppled about 95 trees and knocked out electricity to parts of Cancun and Cozumel. Ortega said about 39,000 people had been evacuated in the states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan, and that about 2,700 people had taken refuge in storm shelters in the two states.

Throughout the day Oct. 6, the situation had appeared grave for this stretch of the Mexican coast.

A lamp post in Cancun, Mexico, leans over a street on Oct. 7, due to Hurricane Delta's winds.

A lamp post in Cancun, Mexico, leans over a street on Oct. 7, due to Hurricane Delta's winds. (Victor Ruiz Garcia/Associated Press)

Delta had increased in strength by 80 mph in just 24 hours, and its top winds peaked at 145 mph before it weakened as it neared the shore. Forecasters warned it was still an extremely dangerous storm nevertheless, with a life-threatening storm surge that could raise water levels 9 to 13 feet, along with large and dangerous waves and flash flooding inland.

State tourism officials said more than 40,000 tourists were in Quintana Roo, a fraction of what would normally be there. Delta’s damage comes on top of months of pandemic-induced lockdown that has devastated the state’s tourism industry.

Delta was forecast to spend several hours lashing the Yucatan Peninsula before moving into the Gulf of Mexico and growing into a “considerably larger” storm before striking the U.S. Gulf Coast. People in Louisiana or Mississippi should prepare now for hurricane-force winds to begin hitting their coastlines on Oct. 9, the hurricane center advised.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Delta was expected to make landfall there the night of Oct. 9 or the morning of Oct. 10 and the entire state is in the storm’s possible path. State and local officials in coastal areas were shoring up levees, sandbagging and taking other protections measures, he said.

Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricane Laura, which ravaged the southwestern region as it roared ashore as a Category 4 storm in August. More than 6,600 Laura evacuees remain in hotels around the state, mainly in New Orleans, because their homes are too heavily damaged to return.

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