Hurricane Beryl makes landfall on Mexico’s Caribbean coast near Tulum as a Category 2 storm

Hurricane Beryl makes landfall on Mexico’s Caribbean coast near Tulum as a Category 2 storm

Hurricane Beryl makes landfall on Mexico’s Caribbean coast near Tulum as a Category 2 storm

TULUM, Mexico — Hurricane Beryl made landfall on the coast of Mexico near the resort of Tulum as a Category 2 storm early Friday, whipping around trees and knocking out power as it came ashore after leaving a trail of destruction in the eastern Caribbean.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Beryl is expected to rapidly weaken to a tropical storm as it crosses the Yucatan Peninsula before re-emerging in the Gulf of Mexico and likely regaining hurricane strength.

Once in the warm waters of the Gulf, Beryl is forecast to head toward northern Mexico near the Texas border, an area that was already hit by Tropical Storm Alberto just a couple of weeks ago.

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Beryl, which was the first storm to become a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, caused destruction in Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados in recent days.

Shortly after landfall, Beryl’s maximum wind speeds had decreased to 100 mph (160 kph), according to the U.S. Hurricane Center.

Mexican authorities had evacuated some tourists and residents from low-lying areas of the Yucatan Peninsula before landfall, but tens of thousands of people remained to endure the 100 mph (160 kph) winds and expected storm surge. Much of the area around Tulum is just a few feet above sea level.

Immersed in darkness

The city was plunged into darkness as the storm knocked out power as it made landfall. Strong winds set off car alarms across the city.

Once a sleepy, quiet town, Tulum has experienced a boom in development in recent years and now has about 50,000 permanent residents and at least as many tourists on a normal day. The resort now has its own international airport.

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As of early Friday, the center of the storm was about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north-northwest of Tulum and moving west-northwest at 15 mph (about 24 kph), the hurricane center said.

On Friday, Beryl was expected to weaken as it crossed the Yucatan Peninsula and re-emerge over the Gulf of Mexico, where the surprisingly resilient storm could strengthen back into a hurricane and make a second landfall near Mexico’s border with Texas next week.

As the wind began to blow on the beaches of Tulum, all-terrain vehicles with megaphones drove along the sand urging people to leave. Tourists took photos of the rising waves, but military personnel urged them to leave.

Authorities on the Yucatan Peninsula have prepared shelters, evacuated some small outlying coastal communities and even removed sea turtle eggs from beaches threatened by storm surge. In Tulum, authorities closed facilities and evacuated beach hotels.

Tourists also took precautions. Lara Marsters, 54, a therapist visiting Tulum from Boise, Idaho, said, “This morning we woke up and filled all of our empty water bottles with tap water and put them in the freezer … so we have water to flush the toilet.”

“We’re hoping the power goes out,” Marsters said. “We’re going to stay under cover and stay safe.”

Border between Mexico and the United States

But once Beryl re-emerges into the Gulf of Mexico a day later, forecasters say it is expected to regain hurricane strength and could strike right on the U.S.-Mexico border in Matamoros. That area was already battered in June by Tropical Storm Alberto.

Velázquez said there were temporary shelters in schools and hotels, but efforts to evacuate some highly exposed villages — such as Punta Allen, which sits on a narrow strip of land south of Tulum — and Mahahual, further south, had only been partially successful.

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Beryl earlier wreaked havoc in the Caribbean. The hurricane damaged or destroyed 95% of homes on a pair of islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, wrecked fishing boats in Barbados and ripped off roofs and knocked out power in Jamaica.

On Union Island, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a man who identified himself as Captain Baga described the impact of the storm, including how he had filled two 2,000-gallon rubber water tanks in preparation.

“I held them tight on six sides and watched the wind pick up those tanks and carry them away, full of water,” he said Thursday. “I’m a sailor and I never believed the wind could do what I saw it do. If anyone had ever told me the wind could do that, I would have told them they were lying!”

The island was littered with debris from houses that looked like they had exploded.

Girlyn Williams and Jeremiah Forde were trying to salvage what they could Thursday around their home, where only a concrete foundation remained standing.

They had run from room to room during the storm, as different sections of their home were destroyed. They eventually hid in a small space created by a rubber water tank that was wedged between the house and a concrete tank. Williams cut his leg in the attempt and needed six stitches.

According to authorities, three people died in Grenada and Carriacou and another in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Three other deaths were reported in northern Venezuela, where four people were missing, according to authorities.

In the Pacific, Tropical Depression Aletta was located about 300 miles (485 kilometers) south-southeast of the southern tip of Baja California, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph), and was forecast to move away from land and dissipate over the weekend.