Hurricane Grace pummeled Mexico with torrential rain on Saturday, causing severe flooding and mudslides that killed at least eight people after becoming one of the most powerful storms in years to hit the country’s Gulf coast.
Grace was blowing maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour), a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, when it slammed into the coast near the resort of Tecolutla in Veracruz state in the early morning.
The state government said eight people were killed, including six from a single family. All but one of the victims died in Xalapa, the state capital, including a young girl killed by a mudslide that hit her home, the government said.
An adult was killed by a collapsed roof in the city of Poza Rica further north in the state, Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia told a news conference.
“The state of emergency has not ended,” he added.
Local television showed severe flooding in Xalapa, with coffins from a local business floating down a waterlogged street. The nearby River Actopan burst its banks, shutting down a local highway, state authorities said.
Ericka Herrera, a homemaker in Tecolutla, was in tears as she described the destruction.
“Not of this magnitude that just wrecks everything,” she said. “It’s really sad. Things are really bad.”
Grace smashed windows, downed trees, power cables and telegraph poles, leaving debris strewn around Tecolutla, though there were no human casualties, local authorities said.
Images from Veracruz posted on social media showed damage to buildings and submerged cars.
Garcia said several rivers in Veracruz would flood, and urged the local population to take cover.
Television footage also showed flooding in Ciudad Madero in the southern reaches of the state of Tamaulipas near the border of Veracruz. Mexican state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos’ (Pemex) Francisco Madero refinery is in Ciudad Madero.
Mexico City’s international airport said some flights were canceled due to the hurricane. The Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) national power utility reported 565,000 electricity users were affected by outages.
Grace weakened quickly as it moved into the mountainous interior, and by 4 p.m. CDT (2100 GMT) it was dissipating in central Mexico, with top winds of 25 mph (35 kph). The center was about 65 miles (105 km) west-northwest of Mexico City, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT2+shtml/211149.shtml
Before Grace hit land, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged people in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to get to higher ground or shelters.
Many appear to have heeded the call.
The NHC forecast Grace would dump 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) of rain over eastern and central Mexico through Sunday and up to 18 inches (45 cm) in some areas. The heavy rainfall will likely cause areas of flash and urban flooding, it said.
Veracruz and its waters are home to several oil installations, including Pemex’s port in Coatzacoalcos and its Lazaro Cardenas refinery in Minatitlan in the south. Grace hit land well to the north of these cities.
Earlier in the week, Grace pounded Mexico’s Caribbean coast, downing trees and resulting in power outages for nearly 700,000 people, but without causing loss of life, authorities said.
It also doused Jamaica and Haiti, still reeling from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, with torrential rain.
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A tropical storm left at least three people dead and displaced thousands of villagers in the southern and central Philippines, where it triggered floods and landslides, officials said Wednesday.
Forecasters said the storm Choi-wan was blowing off Victoria town in Oriental Mindoro province south of Manila on Wednesday afternoon with sustained winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 90 kph (56 mph). It was moving northwestward and may weaken as it blows toward the South China Sea on Thursday, they said.
At least three people died, including a 14-year-old villager who rushed with her father to a riverbank to rescue their farm animals in intense rain but were swept away by strong currents in Norala town in South Cotabato province. The father remains missing, disaster response officials said.
A baby died in a landslide that hit a mountainous town in southern Davao de Oro province and a 71-year-old man drowned in Davao del Sur province, also in the south, officials said.
Coast guard personnel rescued villagers who were trapped in houses engulfed in rising floodwater, including in Southern Leyte province, where they carried 40 residents, including children, in waist-deep waters to a gymnasium.
More than 2,600 people were displaced, mostly by floods, in 18 southern villages, including about 600 villagers who moved to evacuation centers. Thousands more were evacuated Tuesday from towns prone to floods and volcanic mudflows in Albay province, provincial safety official Cedric Daep said.
Officials also suspended work in Albay and ordered shopping malls closed to prevent people from converging and increasing the risk of coronavirus infections, Daep said.
More than 3,000 passengers and cargo handlers were stranded in central and southern seaports after sea travel was suspended by the coast guard due to stormy weather. A small cargo ship laden with sand and gravel was abandoned by its crew when it started to take in water near Albuera town in central Leyte province. The crew was safe, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.
About 20 tropical storms and typhoons batter the Philippine archipelago each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active region where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur frequently, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
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India was slammed on Monday by the strongest storm on record to reach its west coast, hampering authorities’ response to the Covid-19 crisis in some of the country’s hardest hit regions.
Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, a storm with wind speeds equivalent to a high-end Category 3 hurricane that formed in the Arabian Sea, made landfall Monday night local time in Gujarat. It strengthened slightly as it hit the western state with maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (125 mph), according to the United States’ Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
By Tuesday morning, it had weakened from an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” to a “severe cyclonic storm,” according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
Photos and videos show highways turned into rivers by the heavy rain, and trees and power lines toppled by ferocious winds. The cyclone has killed at least 26 people across the coastal states of Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, according to state authorities.
The deaths were due to drowning at sea, house collapses, lightning strikes and other accidents linked to the severe weather, according to states’ disaster management authorities.
This comes as India reels from its second wave of coronavirus, which has infected millions and killed tens of thousands since it began in mid-March. Though daily case figures began declining over the past week, Covid-related deaths continue to break record highs and the crisis is far from over — especially in rural areas with fewer resources and medical supplies.
Covid patients were among the hundreds of thousands evacuated from low-lying areas this week as the region braced for the cyclone’s arrival. In Mumbai, 580 patients from makeshift care centers were moved to various hospitals on Friday and Saturday, according to the city’s municipal corporation.
It’s not the first time India has dealt with natural disasters during the pandemic — last year, the country faced cyclones in late May and early June that also prompted mass evacuations.
Back then, however, India’s cases were still relatively low, at fewer than 10,000 a day, and the country was emerging from a stringent lockdown.
This time, India is the global epicenter of the pandemic. Its health care system has collapsed and patients are still dying from shortages of oxygen and other supplies. The government is more fragile and under greater scrutiny than before, as it struggles to contain the outbreak while facing heavy criticism both at home and overseas.
And the cyclone could be just the harbinger of more disaster to come, as India’s months-long monsoon season approaches.
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A severe dust storm hit parts of Karachi, Pakistan, with gusty winds and dark clouds on Tuesday (May 18). According to reports, the storm left at least four people dead in roof collapse incidents in several areas in the city.
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Super Typhoon Surigae satellite image on Saturday. (NOAA)
Surigae has strengthened to the first super typhoon of 2021 as it edges closer to the Philippines. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu indicated its peak winds had risen to 180 mph, equivalent to a high-end Category 5 hurricane. It is the strongest super typhoon ever observed in the western Pacific during the month of April.
The storm is still projected to remain just offshore the Philippines but is predicted by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to spread moderate to heavy rains, rough surf and gusty winds, especially to the east coast of the central Philippines, on Sunday into Monday. It is expected to gradually weaken to a Category 4 equivalent storm by late Sunday and Category 3 Monday into Tuesday.
Courtesy of washingtonpost.com