Friday, December 1, 2023

Tropical Storm Cristóbal dumps heavy rains in six states

Tropical Storm Cristóbal has battered six states in Mexico, causing heavy rains, flooding, evacuations, landslides and damage to homes and highways in Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Veracruz, Chiapas and Tabasco before moving into Campeche where it was hugging the coast of the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday. 

Nine thousand soldiers and National Guard members have been dispatched to affected areas and those still in the storm’s path.

Cristóbal’s sustained winds dropped to 65 kph yesterday as it approached Ciudad del Carmen, and it was downgraded to a tropical depression earlier today with sustained winds of 56 kph. 

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 4:00 p.m. CDT on Thursday that the storm is expected to deliver extreme rainfall amounts through Saturday in Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán.

Cristóbal is expected to regain strength as it moves over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico Friday night and heads northward where it could make landfall in the United States.

In Campeche, 139 people had to be evacuated by the army due to rising floodwaters that washed out highways and threatened residences. Two communities in the municipality of Centla, Tabasco, were also evacuated.

A highway is left impassable by Tropical Storm Cristóbal.
A highway is left impassable by Tropical Storm Cristóbal.

Yucatán officials declared a yellow alert due to the approaching storm, which could be raised to red by Friday. 

Mass evacuations could be carried out in Celestún, Maxcanú, Hunucmá, Opichén, Kinchil, Samahil, Santa Elena, Chocholá, Tekax, Kopomá, Muna, Oxkutzcab, Sacalum and Tzucacab if conditions worsen. Five thousand hectares of soybeans, squash, chiles and other crops have been lost to the flooding in Yucatán, where some areas have received up to 360 mm of rain since Sunday. 

In Quintana Roo, the Chetumal-Escárcega highway was closed due to flooding, with water levels reaching 80 centimeters, leaving the southern part of the state cut off. 

At least 12 municipalities in Veracruz were put on yellow alert due to strong winds and torrential rain. 

In Chiapas, Chicoasén, Bochil, Copainalá, Tecpatán, Ixtapa and Unión Juárez have all seen landslides and wash-outs due to the storm.

National Civil Protection coordinator David León said one person in Chiapas was killed by a falling tree.

Cristóbal was born on June 2 from the remnants of Pacific Tropical Storm Amanda, which battered Central America leaving at least 22 dead in El Salvador and Guatemala, and marks the earliest named storm in the Atlantic ever. The previous record was set in 2016 when Tropical Storm Colin formed on June 5.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp), Accuweather (sp)

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