Mexico's 1st Hurricane of the Pacific Season makes landfall

On Monday, the strongest hurricane ever to hit land in May's eastern Pacific swept across a stretch of southern Mexico tourist beaches and fishing villages.

Mexico's 1st Hurricane of the Pacific Season makes landfall

On Monday, the strongest hurricane ever to hit land in May's eastern Pacific swept across a stretch of southern Mexico tourist beaches and fishing villages.

Tourists and residents were forced to shelter in the region by torrential rains and howling winds caused by Hurricane Agatha.

Oaxaca's civil defense agency saw families running to shelter in Pochutla, and to a rock-and-mud slide that blocked the highway that connected that town with the capital.

Agatha, a Category 2 storm with sustained winds up to 105 mph (165 km/h), made landfall 5 miles (10km) west of Puerto Angel. It quickly lost strength as it moved inland.

The maximum sustained winds dropped to 80 mph (130 km/h) by evening. It was heading northeast at 8 mph (11.3 kph) and headed toward the Gulf of Mexico where it might re-emerge.

Near Puerto Angel, strong winds, heavy rain, and large waves started lashing Zipolite beach town. Zipolite is well-known for its bohemian vibe and clothing-optional beach.

Silvia Ranfagni is the manager of Zipolite's Casa Kalmar Hotel. She said that there has been a lot of rain lately and strong winds. Ranfagni said that the ocean is very stirred up and that it's raining quite a lot. She has also decided to ride Agatha around the property. "You can hear wind howling."

According to national emergency officials, they have assembled a task force consisting of more than 9,300 people. More than 200 shelters were also opened in the region as forecasters warned about dangerous storm surges and heavy rains.

People took refuge in Puerto Escondido to the west and put up plywood to keep strong winds out.

Agatha formed on Sunday and quickly gained power. It made landfall Monday afternoon as a powerful Category 2 hurricane, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

According to Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections, Agatha is the strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit land in May in the eastern Pacific. He also founded Weather Underground.

He stated that the most common source of hurricanes in the region is tropical waves off the coast Africa.

Masters explained in an email that "the African monsoon usually doesn't start producing tropical waves before early- or middle-May," and that there aren't enough initial disturbances for many eastern Pacific hurricanes. "In addition to that, May water temperatures are lower than at peak season and wind shear is usually higher."

Masters wasn't sure if Agatha was triggered by a tropical wave, which are low pressure areas that move across the tropics. However, Masters said the storm was helped by warm waters and low wind shear.

According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to bring rain to Oaxaca in amounts of 10-16 inches (250-400 millimeters). There will be isolated highs of 20 inches (500 milimeters) that could lead to flash floods or mudslides.

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