Grace heads for a second hurricane hit on Mexican coast

A road sign brought down by the winds of Hurricane Grace straddles one lane of a highway in Tulum, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. The Category 1 storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m., just south of the ancient Mayan temples of Tulum, pelting the Caribbean coast with heavy rain and pushing a dangerous storm surge. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

TULUM, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Grace — temporarily knocked back to tropical storm force — headed Friday for a second landfall in Mexico, this time taking aim at the Gulf coast after crashing through the country’s main tourist strip.

The storm lost punch as it zipped across the Yucatan Peninsula, but it emerged late Thursday over the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico and was gaining energy.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Grace’s winds were back up to 85 mph (140 kph) early Friday. It was centered about 235 miles (380 kilometers) east of Tuxpan and was heading west at 15 mph (24 kph).

Forecasters predicted more strengthening before Grace makes landfall.

The forecast track would take it toward a coastal region of small fishing towns and beach resorts between Tuxpan and Veracruz, likely Friday night, then over a mountain range toward the heart of the country and the greater Mexico City region.

Forecasters said it could drop 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain, with more in a few isolated areas — bringing the threat of flash floods, mudslide and urban flooding.

The hurricane hit early Thursday near Tulum, a resort town famed for its Mayan ruins. Some families passed harrowing hours sheltering from cracking trees and flying debris.

As the storm approached, Carlos González grabbed his 1 1/2-year-old son and ran from his home with his wife to a school-turned-shelter, using his cellphone light to find his way through darkened streets.

“The only thing I have left is what I’m wearing,” the 35-year-old construction worker said. “I knew my house wasn’t going to stand it because it’s made of cardboard. When the wind came I was really scared and decided to leave.”

There were no reports of deaths, but many streets were blocked by fallen limbs and trees that pulled down power lines, leaving thousands in the dark Thursday.

Most businesses remained closed, but the few that opened saw long lines of people waiting to buy tortillas and other food.

Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquín said the storm had knocked out power to some 84,000 customers in Cancun and 65,000 in Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventura and Tulum. But he said there were no reported deaths.

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AP journalist Dan Christian Rojas in Cancun contributed to this report.

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