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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Tropical Storm Gamma reaches Gulf, moving slowly toward Progreso

Strongest effects locally will be felt Monday afternoon, forecasters predict

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This radar image from the Weather Channel shows Gamma’s position in the Gulf of Mexico at 7 a.m. Sunday.

With near-hurricane strength, Tropical Storm Gamma made landfall noon Saturday on the Yucatan Peninsula near Tulum, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

Gamma packed maximum sustained winds near 70 miles per hour / 110 kmh) with higher gusts, forecasters said.

Divers in Merida plunge into the watery depths of the Harbor Mall underground parking garage, which turns out to be susceptible to flooding. Storm Gamma has created havoc across the Yucatan Peninsula. Photo: Courtesy

The slow-moving storm entered Yucatan territory, through Chemax, on Saturday afternoon, before reaching the Gulf on Sunday. Valladolid was particularly hard hit with widespread flooding and power outages.

It will be furthest from Merida and Progreso by 7 p.m. on Sunday. Gamma is expected to come closest — and potentially create the most havoc in the region — on Monday afternoon as it blows west offshore.

In Merida, street flooding was rampant while in Progreso, areas of the malecon were underwater and several beach palapas, and some sections of temporary fencing, were toppled.

Progreso’s beach was whipped by Gamma Saturday and is expected to endure more high winds and rain this week. Photo: Facebook

Homes west of Progreso have been left without electricity, according to local media. In Chicxulub Puerto, a roof at the public multipurpose field blew down.

Some areas could reach up to a foot of rain before the system runs its course. In Yucatan, the authorities declared a red alert in eastern and some southern municipalities.

Gamma is expected to slow down even further Sunday and turn west or west-southwest later that day and Monday.

Tropical Storm Gamma’s projected path was updated 4 a.m. Sunday by the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

Gamma will then meander around the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico for the next few days but, while there could be a brief period of strengthening Sunday, Gamma will weaken again from Monday until sometime Wednesday.

At greatest risk for major flash flooding will be Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas and Veracruz, where heavy rainfall totals could cause mudslides.

Gamma is expected to become a little better organized over the coming days and will likely become a tropical depression.

A tropical wave over the central Caribbean Sea — designated Tropical Disturbance 1 — could become a tropical depression next week. The system was moving west-northwest at 15 mph toward the southern Gulf of Mexico. It has a 60% chance of developing in the next five days or so.

Towards Friday and next weekend, this system may be able to just slip by a weakened, meandering Gamma and emerge in the Gulf of Mexico.

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