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Hurricane Agatha is gaining strength and just started making landfall in southern Mexico. The storm marks the first named hurricane of the year in the eastern Pacific. Senior meteorologist, Dan Pydynowski, at AccuWeather said that the hurricane is the first-ever May Category 2 to hit the eastern Pacific basin.
“It will be the strongest one on record,” the meteorologist said. As of Monday at 10 p.m. CT, the storm has reached sustainable winds at 110 mph the National Hurricane Center shared. It had up to 60 mph sustained winds around the same period as of Saturday night.
In a fishing town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca located west of Puerto Angel, Agatha made landfall, which is not too far from Zipolite known as a beach town. It is also known for its steady popularity with the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
In a warning by the National Hurricane Center, Oaxaca is estimated to reach approximately 10 to 16 inches of rain. Amounts can raise bodies of water by 20 inches. Additionally, storm surges can provide some of the most dangerous risks of flooding. The region has historically only been met with Category 1 hurricanes such as Hurricane Barbara on May 29, 2013, and under the same name, Hurricane Agatha on May 24, 1971, stated Pydynowski.
Prior to the pandemic, Oaxaca was known for its tourism which garnered more than 200,000 visitors from around the world. The capital city of Oaxaca sees its greatest number of tourists. With an estimate of 80,000 tourists in other locations such as Huatulco and Puerto Escondido.
It’s an industry known for its job creation just above 159,000 jobs in that year alone, totaling an income across all locations to be estimated at $29 million. This serves as a vital source of income in one of the most impoverished areas in Mexico.
There are almost half a million local residents at risk. Currently, there is a coordinated effort by multiple municipalities at locations most likely to be struck by a hurricane. Alejandro Murat Hinojosa the governor of Oaxaca posted a video on Twitter “As your governor, I will be attentive, giving you information as to how this storm is unfolding so you can keep taking the precautions you need to protect yourself and your family,” he said.
NOAA cites the ever-increasing threat of hurricane intensity to be linked to a weather phenomenon — La Niña. These patterns of climate affect the speed as well as direction that these types of storms that West African monsoon season creates. As a result, this can lead to an ever-increasing strength and time of how long hurricanes can last; such as Agatha as well as any in the foreseeable future.
Written by Skye Leon
Edited by Sheena Robertson
CNN: Hurricane Agatha rapidly intensifies in the eastern Pacific as it barrels toward Mexico; By Haley Brink
The Weather Channel: Hurricane Agatha Strengthening South of Mexico; By weather.com meteorologists
The New York Times: Hurricane Agatha Makes Landfall in Southern Mexico; By Maria Cramer