Hurricane Agatha made landfall in Mexico’s Oaxaca state Monday afternoon in what’s expected to be the strongest May storm to hit the eastern Pacific on record.
Agatha was already raking the Pacific coastline with damaging gusts and heavy rain early Monday. The compact storm, just below Category 3 strength on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was forecast to push a wall of water into coastal areas, leading to flooding. A hurricane warning has been posted from Salina Cruz to Lagunas de Chacahua.
“Assuming it does hold its intensity, it would be the strongest May hurricane ever to make landfall in the eastern Pacific,” said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with commercial forecaster AccuWeather Inc.
Agatha is the first storm of the eastern Pacific hurricane season, which began May 15, and formed far enough off land that it had time to draw strength over the warm ocean waters before nearing the coast.
The tropical system is expected to be ripped apart by the mountains of southern Mexico and quickly lose strength, however its remnants could cross land into the Atlantic’s Gulf of Mexico and form into a new storm there later this week. There is a 40% chance a new system could form in the Bay of Campeche off Mexico’s east coast near the Yucatan Peninsula.
Agatha’s hurricane-strength winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour only extend out about 15 miles, but the storm is forecast to bring widespread rain of 10 to 16 inches. Some areas will get as much as 20 inches of rain across Oaxaca and heavy showers are forecast in Chiapas and Veracruz states, which could cause flash floods and mudslides across southern Mexico.
“Life-threatening, hurricane-force winds are expected in portions of the hurricane warning area in Oaxaca, Mexico starting midday and continuing through this evening,” Robbie Berg, a senior hurricane specialist at the US center, wrote in a forecast. “Heavy rains associated with Agatha will continue over portions of southern Mexico through Tuesday.”
–With assistance from Dale Quinn.
About the photo: View of the beach before Hurricane Agatha makes landfall in Huatulco, Oaxaca State, Mexico on May 30, 2022. Photographer: Gil Obed/AFP/Getty Images
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