Hurricane Beryl makes landfall in Mexico, officials warn people to ‘protect lives and property’

Hurricane Beryl made landfall early Friday morning on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula as a powerful Category 2 storm, after meteorologists warned of damaging winds, storm surge of up to two meters (6.5 feet) and life-threatening surf and rip currents.

The Yucatan Civil Protection Department confirmed that the storm made landfall north of Tulum at 7:05 a.m. ET with sustained winds of 108 mph (174 km/h) and gusts of 137 mph (220 km/h).

Beryl is not expected to spend much time over land. That means the moon will appear over the Gulf of Mexico later Friday, where it could gain strength as it makes its way toward the Gulf Coast of Mexico and possibly southern Texas.

The storm remains to the north of its planned tracks, increasing the chance of a landfall in Texas.

Earlier, the National Hurricane Center reported that Beryl had been downgraded from a Category 3 storm to a powerful Category 2 storm early Friday morning, but warned that the storm poses a serious and widespread risk.

“Preparations to protect lives and property must be completed as soon as possible,” the center said.

The hurricane has already been blamed for nine deaths in Venezuela, Jamaica and the Windward Islands of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The hurricane caused extensive damage to many homes in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, officials there said.

At 3 a.m. ET, Beryl was 77 miles west of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Yucatan Department of Civil Protection said. The peninsula is under a hurricane warning and the storm is expected to emerge into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday night.

A maximum of 25 centimetres of rain is expected and there is a chance of flooding on the peninsula.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the hurricane was likely to reach Tulum and urged people to move to higher ground or seek shelter elsewhere.

“Let us not hesitate, material things can be found again. The most important thing is life,” he said on X on Thursday night.

By Thursday the storm had weakened to a Category 2, but later it had strengthened again to a Category 3. At 10 p.m. it reached maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h).

According to the hurricane center, hurricane warnings are in effect for the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, from Puerto Costa Maya to Cancún, including the island of Cozumel.

The storm is expected to make landfall on Friday morning, but meteorologists say the devastating winds and powerful waves caused by the large storm could hit the peninsula sooner.

The storm is expected to weaken after landfall. It is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday evening and then regain some strength. According to the National Hurricane Center, it is expected to move toward northeastern Mexico or southern Texas by the end of the weekend.

“There is an increasing risk of strong winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall across parts of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas this weekend,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Beryl’s formation and strength are record-breaking. Scientists say the process of rapid intensification is becoming more common as climate change increases sea surface temperatures.

It was the first Category 4 hurricane to form in June and the earliest Category 4 storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. Before Beryl, the earliest was Hurricane Dennis, which formed on July 8, 2005.

When Beryl strengthened this week to a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of up to 165 mph (265 km/h), it became the most powerful hurricane on record in July.

American tourists in Mexico are sheltering in place and hoping for limited damage from the storm, while flights to and from the region remain canceled.

Stae and Wallace Hall, of Fort Worth, Texas, are staying at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, just 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Tulum, where Beryl is expected to make landfall Friday morning.

“The winds are picking up a little bit,” Stae Hall told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday. “They’re starting to take down some of the light poles, they’re starting to take down some of the cabanas off the beaches.”

Anita Luis, a tourist from Dallas, Texas, told Reuters: “We’re worried about the hurricane and not just for ourselves but for all the people who are traveling. We just want to get home safely and pray for everyone else, but we’re just stuck here.”

Anyone staying at a resort looking for a stiff drink to calm their nerves as Beryl flies overhead will be disappointed: the Halls said their hotel has stopped serving alcohol at the behest of the Mexican government.

“I just have to realize that I have no control,” Stae Hall said. “Go into prayer mode. We’re going to go to the buffet, get some snacks, get some fruit, maybe play some games and just pretend like nothing is happening.”

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