Hurricane Zeta heads for Mexico’s Caribbean coast

CANCUN, Mexico (AFP) — Mexican authorities on Monday warned residents and tourists to shelter indoors as a hurricane barreled towards the Caribbean coast — the second this month.

Zeta strengthened from a tropical storm into a Category 1 hurricane packing maximum sustained winds of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour, the US National Hurricane Center said.

On Monday evening Zeta was located about 45 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of the Mexican resort island of Cozumel and on course to hit the Yucatan Peninsula in a few hours, the Miami-based NHC said.

The authorities ordered the suspension of work activities and shipping in the affected areas and opened shelters for people who felt unsafe at home.

In the resort city of Cancun, residents stocked up on groceries as well as wood and tape to cover their windows, while motorists lined up to buy gasoline.

“It’s better to be prepared because with Wilma (a Category 5 hurricane that hit in 2005) we suffered a lot with no water, electricity or anything to eat,” said Cancun resident Lucia Castro.

Zeta was expected to bring a “dangerous storm surge,” heavy rains and possible flooding, the NHC warned.

“Some additional strengthening is possible before Zeta makes landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula,” it said.

The storm is likely to weaken as it moves over land before strengthening again over the Gulf of Mexico as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast of the United States, the NHC forecast.

On October 7, Hurricane Delta hit the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 2 storm, toppling trees and ripping down power lines, but without causing any deaths.

Thousands of tourists were forced to spend the night in emergency shelters along the Riviera Maya coastline.

Zeta is the 28th storm of an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season.

In September, meteorologists were forced to use the Greek alphabet to name Atlantic storms for only the second time ever, after the 2020 hurricane season blew through their usual list, ending on Tropical Storm Wilfred.

© Agence France-Presse