Delta and other devastating hurricanes that hit Mexico in the last 25 years
Due to its geographical location and territorial extension, Mexico has suffered countless hurricane impacts in both the Pacific and Atlantic; some with devastating impact. Here is an account of the most powerful meteorological phenomena that have hit the country in the last 25 years.
According to the National Water Commission (Conagua), Hurricane Delta (2020), which made landfall in the early hours of October 7 in the Mexican Caribbean, was dangerous to the coasts of Quintana Roo and Yucatan.
With its maximum sustained winds of 215 km/h in Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, it caused intense rains, electric discharges, strong winds, and waves of six to 10 meters high along the entire coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, from Holbox to Río Lagartos.
Conagua considered it as "the most intense hurricane in the last 50 years" of those recorded in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic. It was a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Its maximum sustained winds were estimated with a maximum intensity of 342 km/h.
Fortunately, the country's orography played in favor of its inhabitants, since Patricia's strong winds collided with the Jalisco mountains until it became a storm.
Nevertheless, it left a historic number of refugees, which showed that with the passage of time and with the timely information from the authorities, the population has gradually learned to keep safe from the lethal onslaught of hurricanes. The states most affected by this hurricane were Colima, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Nayarit.
Although only a category 1, Manuel left more than 120 dead, 97 of them in an avalanche in the community of La Pintada, in Guerrero; although it also hit Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Durango.
In addition, there were more than 59,000 evacuees and at least 218,594 people affected. Economic losses were estimated at USD 242 million. After the phenomenon, innumerable lootings were also registered, especially in the commercial centers of Acapulco, Guerrero.
For the first time in history, a hurricane was given a name with the letter W: Wilma. It has been the most destructive one to hit Mexico. On October 21, 2005, it made landfall in the city of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, as a Category 4, and then affected Cancun and the Riviera Maya for more than 48 hours.
Although there are only records of eight deaths, the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions (AMIS) documented that the impact of the hurricane on the coast of Quintana Roo left damages equivalent to USD 1,752 million, especially in its hotel zone. After the phenomenon, innumerable lootings were also registered.
A Category 4 hurricane, it killed 228 people and affected more than 150,000 people. It made landfall in Chiapas before devastating Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca and Acapulco, Guerrero.
According to the National Center for the Prevention of Disasters (Cenapred), Paulina increased the level of the Papagayo, La Sabana, and El Camarón rivers and caused mudflows, road cuts, destroyed bridges, and incommunicado populations. The economic loss was about USD 447 million.
How a hurricane is formed and classified
A hurricane forms when thunderstorms accumulate in warm water with hot air, forming a low pressure that creates a vortex. The rotational movement of the earth begins to make it spin and with the same warmth of the ocean water it feeds.
To measure hurricanes there are five categories that depend on the speed of the winds.
Category 1: winds from 119 to 153 kilometers per hour. It can cause damage to mobile homes, trees, and some coastal flooding.
Category 2: winds from 154 to 177 kilometers per hour. It can affect roofs, bridges, fallen trees, broken windows, flooding of streets, and fall of spectacular signs.
Category 3: winds from 178 to 209 kilometers per hour. It can affect the structure of small buildings, houses, and massive floods.
Category 4: winds from 210 to 249 kilometers per hour. They could leave floods in large areas, the collapse of houses, buildings, serious effects on beaches and structures.
Category 5: winds of 250 to more. It is the strongest category and the damage is total. There is a collapse in large buildings, huge waves of up to 5 meters high, trees uprooted, floods can reach up to three meters high and gusts tear everything in its path.