Hurricane Grace made landfall along Mexico’s eastern Yucatan peninsula Thursday, clocking winds of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour as the National Hurricane Center warned of a “dangerous storm surge” in the area.
The center said in its last update that the Category One hurricane — the lowest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale — was 10 miles from the town of Tulum on Mexico’s Caribbean coastline.
On Wednesday, as the Hurricane approached Mexico ground flights and forced tourists in some hotels along the Riviera Maya to hunker down overnight in storm shelters.
At least 124 flights to or from Cancun were canceled, the city’s mayor, Mara Lezama, said on Twitter.
“Hotels in Tulum have been evacuated and the tourists taken to various hotel shelters,” said Carlos Joaquin, governor of the southeastern state of Quintana Roo.
Another 125 people from neighboring municipalities were also evacuated, while sea crossings to nearby islands were suspended and ports were closed, he said on Twitter.
After it has crossed the Yucatan, the storm was expected to move over the southwest Gulf of Mexico before lashing the eastern states of Veracruz and Tamaulipas.
Grace was “expected to bring strong winds and a dangerous storm surge” to parts of the Yucatan, according to the NHC.
“Heavy rainfall from Grace will likely result in areas of flash and urban flooding, and will also be capable of producing mudslides,” it said.
The storm surge will be accompanied by “large and destructive waves” near the coast, the NHC warned.
Businesses on the Riviera Maya boarded up windows, while fishermen and tour operators hauled their boats onto land and tourists soaked up the final hours in the sun.
At supermarkets in Cancun, some residents stocked up on food in preparation for the storm’s arrival, although the authorities called on people to avoid panic buying.
“We don’t know what it will be like,” said 41-year-old housewife Hortencia Rodriguez.
“With Wilma we didn’t prepare and we were hit hard,” she said, referring to a Category 5 hurricane that pummeled Cancun in 2005.
Authorities in Quintana Roo set up 85 shelters for people who needed refuge from the storm.