Hurricane Grace targeted the Mexican oil-producing state of Veracruz in the early hours of Saturday, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged people in five states to seek refuge.
Grace was a Category 3 hurricane on Friday night, with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour (195 km per hour), with stronger gusts, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
López Obrador said on Twitter that thousands of civil protection forces, the Ministry of Defense and the Navy, as well as the state Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) were prepared.
“I ask the people of the regions of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to seek refuge in high places with relatives and in shelters that are being installed,” López Obrador wrote.
Grace was about 105 miles (165 kilometers) north of the city of Veracruz late Friday, moving west at 10 mph (17 kph), the Miami-based NHC said.
As of Sunday, the NHC predicted that Grace would dump 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) of rain over large swaths of eastern and central Mexico, and up to 18 inches in some areas. Heavy rains would likely cause flash flood areas and urban flooding, he said.
In Tecolutla, a seaside resort on the Gulf of Mexico in Veracruz state, residents spent hours Friday afternoon bringing hundreds of boats ashore to keep them safe.
“Here in Tecolutla, we have had a culture of prevention for many years,” said Ricardo Pardinas, who offers boat rides to tourists. “These weather events have caused damage.”
Veracruz and its waters are also home to several oil facilities, including the Coatzacoalcos port of Petróleos Mexicanos and the Lázaro Cárdenas refinery in Minatitlán, in the south of the state.
Earlier in the week, Grace struck the Caribbean coast of Mexico, knocking down trees and causing power outages for nearly 700,000 people, but without causing death, authorities said.
It also drenched Jamaica and Haiti, still reeling from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake with torrential rains.