Hurricane Dean joined a small but devastating group of Category five hurricanes with winds in excess of 160 mph (255 kp/hr) as it slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula near the border of Mexico and Belize.
News reports (BBC, TF1 and others) reported heavy rains, shrieking winds and huge storm surge waves, as the population – locals and tourists alike – huddled in designated shelters to wait out the storm’s passing.
Miami’s National Hurricane Center has now downgraded Dean to a category three hurricane (125 mph/205 km/hr with higher gusts) as it passes over the Yucatan on its way into the Gulf of Mexico.
It could, however, regain some strength as it travels over the warm waters of the Gulf. The NHC said a Hurricane Warning is in effect “along the West Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf Coast of Mexico from south of Progreso southward and westward to Veracruz.”
It is too early to gauge the amount of damage Dean has caused on its path through the Yucatan, or if there have been any fatalities. The resort town of Chetumal lies about 40 miles (65 kms) north-east of where the eye of the storm came ashore, but farther north Cancun and the island of Cozumel were spared the worst of the storm’s fury.
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