Mexico is bracing for onslaught from Hurricane Delta, which could be “extremely dangerous” when it hits the country on Wednesday, forcing authorities to deploy 5,000 troops.
Delta strengthened on Tuesday in Category 4 on a scale of 5, and its winds are gusting up to 220 km / h.
It is a “Category 4 hurricane that will be extremely dangerous when it hits the Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday,” on Mexico’s Atlantic coast, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned from its Miami headquarters.
The hurricane was located on Tuesday afternoon about 420 km southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and is moving at a speed of 26 km / h.
The northern tip of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, where the resort of Cancun is located, has been placed on high alert, as has the island of Cozumel.
And the hurricane could strengthen further over the next 24 hours, the NHC added.
Delta will then move northward over the Gulf of Mexico before heading for the southern coast of the United States, likely level with Louisiana, which it could reach between Thursday evening and Friday morning.
Mexico City has ordered the deployment of 5,000 soldiers in this region in the south-east of the country, announced President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The troops, who belong to the Secretariat of the Navy, will execute the DN-III plan, which helps communities affected by natural disasters.
A hurricane in the midst of a pandemic
This storm is occurring against a backdrop further complicated by the COVID-19 epidemic that is raging around the world, and in particular in Mexico.
Authorities in the state of Quintana Roo have said that starting at 1 p.m. non-essential activities in the area will be suspended.
The governor of this state, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, has decreed the closure of the airports of the resort town of Cancún – one of the main tourist destinations in Mexico – and Cozumel from 5 p.m. local time.
Shortly before, he said he had already started vacating hotels on the coast of Cancun and Puerto Morelos.
Quintana Roo state authorities have said that from 1 p.m. non-essential activities in the area will be suspended.
The governor of that state, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, said he had already started to free up hotels on the coast at resorts in Cancun and Puerto Morelos.
Also on the islands of Punta Allen and Holbox, tourists will be sent to the nearest towns because they are in danger.
Visitors, fewer than usual due to the epidemic and many of whom are of foreign origin, must be evacuated to shelters provided by hotels in the region, while for the population, shelters public were opened, added the official.
These shelters have been sanitized as a health measure to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The population barricades itself
Residents have been urged to purchase food and drinking water, as well as to collect important documents to keep, before the hurricane hits land.
Fishermen in the region have been busy securing their boats so that they are not washed away by the waves.
As is the case in anticipation of each hurricane passage in the area, the Yucatan state power company should preventively cut off the power before the hurricane arrives in the area in order to avoid electrocutions in the event of falling pylons.
This situation is a further blow to Cancún and its surroundings, which had already experienced a dramatic drop in tourist attendance following the pandemic.
Tourism represents more than 8% of the GDP of Mexico, the fourth country in the world most affected by the new coronavirus, with 81,877 deaths and nearly 800,000 confirmed cases.
The rains were heavy until Monday, when Tropical Storm Gamma made landfall last weekend, killing at least six people and affecting 600,000 more.
High intensity hurricanes are those belonging to categories 3 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Delta is the 26th named storm in an unusually rough Atlantic hurricane season in which several records have been broken. Due to the exhaustion of the list of expected names, meteorologists began to identify them using the Greek alphabet.