Tuesday, August 21, 2007
After gaining strength in the western Caribbean last night, Hurricane Dean made landfall as a Category 5 storm on Mexico’s Yucatán coast at about 4:30 a.m. this morning (EDT).
The storm struck just north of Chetumal, the capital of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. However, hurricane-force winds were felt over 60 miles (~100 km) away from the center of the storm, and tropical storm conditions impacted areas 175 miles (280 km) away.
The Mexican government ordered the deployment of over 4,000 troops, and declared a state of emergency in the state of Campeche. Some areas braced for up to 20 inches (510 mm) of rain.
Dean made landfall as a category 5 storm, before being downgraded hours later to a category 3 storm. Later Tuesday afternoon, Dean was downgraded to a category 2 storm. Currently, the storm maintains category 1 status, with top sustained winds at 85 mph (137 km/h).
The hurricane moved towards modern oil installations of the Yucatan Peninsula, prompting evacuations of offshore oil rigs that produce most of Mexico’s oil and gas.
Forecasters warn the storm could pick up strength as it crosses the Bay of Campeche and turn into an even more destructive hurricane before making a second landfall on Wednesday.
A hurricane warning remains in effect along the Gulf Coast of Mexico from south of Progreso to Tampico.
Forecasters do not believe it presents a threat to the United States.
Dean is being blamed for 13 deaths already.