Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Franklin weakens after striking Mexican coast

Thomson Reuters Foundation, YAOUNDE

A family react to waves breaking over the sea wall ahead of the storm in Veracruz, Mexico, on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

A Category 1 hurricane early yesterday weakened into a tropical storm after slamming into Mexico’s eastern coast with powerful winds and heavy rain capable of producing deadly flash floods.

Hurricane Franklin made landfall near the town of Lechuguillas, 115km northwest of the port of Veracruz, the US National Hurricane Center reported at 6am GMT.

That is the lowest level on the five-point scale. Veracruz state authorities nevertheless declared a red alert, and said the amount of damage would depend on how much water Franklin dumps, and where.

Franklin, the first hurricane this season, was packing maximum sustained winds of 140kph when it struck the coast, the center said.

Three hours later it weakened into a tropical storm as it moved inland, still bringing heavy rain and dangerous winds of 110kph, the center said in its 9am GMT bulletin.

Franklin is forecast to drop rainfall totals of 101mm to 202mm, with isolated maximum amounts of 381mm inches, it said.

“These rains are capable of producing life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the center said.

The storm was forecast to weaken as it moved across eastern Mexico yesterday.

Veracruz Governor Miguel Angel Yunes told TV network Televisa that the areas “most at risk are the ones where we have ‘rapid response’ rivers, rivers that originate in the mountains near the coast and whose discharge of water can rise rapidly.”

There are 90 cities and towns that will likely feel the direct effects, with a total of more than 2 million residents, Veracruz state disaster management chief Yolanda Baizabal said.

Classes, tourism activity and navigation were all suspended in Veracruz on Wednesday, as Mexican soldiers and sailors were deployed to carry out preventive evacuations.

In nearby Puebla, state authorities declared a red alert and prepared shelters for nearly 100,000 people who could be affected by the storm.

Soldiers and sailors also carried out preventive evacuations in the mountains of Puebla, where authorities fear that heavy rain could cause deadly landslides.

Franklin struck the Yucatan Peninsula in eastern Mexico on Monday. It crossed the peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

Mexico’s long eastern coastline is often struck by storms during the Atlantic hurricane season. The season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, although hurricanes may also occur outside this period.

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