Hurricane Grace makes landfall with 80 mph winds along Mexico’s Caribbean coast

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Hurricane Grace made landfall on Mexico’s eastern coast early Thursday, when a deluge of rain and severe winds threatened to destroy some homes.

Grace’s center struck just south of Tulum at 5:45 a.m. EST, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

As the storm moved over Mexico’s Caribbean coast, south of the ancient Mayan temples in Tulum, the storm weakened slightly, but remained at hurricane strength on Thursday morning. It headed west across the peninsula at 17 mph, and was located about 45 miles south-southeast of Valladolid, Mexico.

On Thursday morning, the streets of Playa del Carmen, north of where Grace made landfall, were littered with tree branches, after a desolate Wednesday night, when Mexican authorities ordered businesses to close and people to seek shelter by 8 pm.

Boaters protect their vessels in the face of the arrival of Hurricane Grace in Puerto Juarez, city of Cancun, state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Alonso Cupul/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

But Axel Felix, a 37-year-old pizza deliveryman, made his last drop off before hunkering down.

“Now I’m going home and I’m not going out until tomorrow,” he said. “You’ve got to be careful and stay at home.”

Juan González, a 25-year-old student, was walking his dog.

“At home, we will be calm with food, waiting to see what happens and with the windows protected,” said González.

Tourists are seen trying desperately to depart Cancun's international airport before the arrival of Hurricane Grace.
Tourists are seen trying desperately to depart Cancun’s international airport before the arrival of Hurricane Grace.
REUTERS/Paola Chiomante

The storm hitting Mexico comes after it became a hurricane after unleashing torrential downpour on Haiti — already reeling from an earthquake that killed about 2,000 people and the assassination of the country’s president. The Category 1 storm had already drenched Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, as well.

Grace’s sustained winds on Wednesday reached 75 mph as it moved away from the Cayman Islands and hit Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula Thursday morning. A hurricane warning was in effect for the Yucatan from Cancun to Punta Herrero.

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Workers take preventive measures to avoid damage at the touristic places due to the arrival of Hurricane "Grace" in Playa del Carmen, in the Mexican Caribbean
Workers take preventive measures to avoid damage at tourism sites due to the arrival of Hurricane Grace in Playa del Carmen, in the Mexican Caribbean.
Natalia Pescador / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Construction workers rest in a shelter, as Hurricane Grace hits Punta Allen, in the city of Tulum, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, 18 August 2021.
Construction workers rest in a shelter, as Hurricane Grace hits Punta Allen, in the city of Tulum, Quintana Roo state, Mexico.
EPA/Alonso Cupul

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