Oct. 5 (UPI) — The record-breaking nature of the 2020 Atlantic Tropical Season continues as Tropical Storm Gamma meanders north of the Yucatan Peninsula early Monday after striking Mexico with strong winds and flooding rains over the weekend.
Gamma became a tropical storm and gained its name on Friday evening as it strengthened in the northwestern Caribbean Sea, becoming only the second storm of its name to exist in Atlantic Basin history, and the earliest ever, beating out the Gamma of 2005.
The system made landfall at 12:45 p.m. EDT on Saturday near Tulum, Mexico, as a strong tropical storm.
The National Hurricane Center said that a weather station at Xel-Ha Park, along the Yucatan coast just north of Tulum, reported sustained winds of 60 mph.
In its 4 a.m CDT advisory on Monday, the NHC said Gamma had weakened slightly with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was drifting west-southwest at 2 mph and was about 170 miles northeast of Progreso, Mexico, and about 155 miles north-northwest of Cozumel, Mexico.
“Gamma is forecast to gradually turn toward the southwest or west-southwest later today, and continue to move slowly in that direction through mid-week,” the advisory said. “on the forecast track, the center of Gamma will continue to meander offshore of the northern Yucatan Peninsula this morning, and pass near or just offshore of the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula later today and on Tuesday.”
The government of Mexico has issued a Tropical Storm Watch from Progreso to Campeche.
Gamma battered the Yucatan Peninsula over the weekend with heavy rain and gusty winds before shifting into the Gulf of Mexico.
The governor of the state of Quintana Roo, which contains cities like Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun, advised on Twitter that residents shelter at home and report emergencies to the appropriate authorities.
According to Noticaribe, one of the hardest-hit areas so far is Playa del Carmen, where the State Coordination of Civil Protection issued a red alert on Saturday morning, due to Gamma’s impending impacts.
Reports of fallen trees, blackouts and flooding in main streets were noted by several emergency agencies in the city.
Just to the north, in Puerto Morelos, the local government set up two temporary shelters. Firefighters, public services and civil protection crews were out removing tree branches and assisting drivers, municipal president Laura Fernandez told CancunMio.
Before Gamma pushed into the Yucatan Peninsula, much of southeastern Mexico was deluged by heavy rainfall at the end of September and start of October.