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Hurricane Agatha strikes Mexico with sustained winds of 105 mph

Agatha is the strongest May storm to hit Mexico's Pacific coast since record-keeping started in 1949.

Hurricane Agatha, one of the earliest and strongest hurricanes on record to strike North America from the Pacific, made landfall in Mexico on Monday afternoon, forecasters said.

The storm arrived at 4 p.m. CT, landing about 25 miles south-southeast of the surfing mecca Puerto Escondido, with sustained winds believed to be as strong as 105 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The tropical cyclone reached hurricane strength Sunday in the eastern North Pacific as it headed toward the Mexican Riviera, with the potential for flash flooding, heavy winds, mudslides and flooding expected, U.S. forecasters said.

Image: MEXICO-WEATHER-HURRICANE-AGATHA
Palm trees blow in the wind before Hurricane Agatha makes landfall in Huatulco, Oaxaca State, Mexico on May 30, 2022. - Hurricane Agatha, the first of the season, made landfall Monday near a string of beach resorts on Mexico's Pacific Coast, where residents and tourists hunkered down in storm shelters. (Photo by Gil OBED / AFP) (Photo by GIL OBED/AFP via Getty Images)Gil Obed / AFP - Getty Images

In Puerto Escondido, residents boarded up windows and moved some boats from harm's way in the hours before landfall.

"Thank God we still have time, and, as you can see, our colleagues are working to protect the boats," said Rene Hernandez, a local fisherman. "We beg God for the hurricane not to be so strong."

The storm nonetheless edited the record book, becoming the strongest May hurricane to make landfall on Mexico's west coast since documentation began in earnest in 1949, according to the hurricane center.

Agatha is also the earliest first named hurricane in the eastern North Pacific since 2015's Andres, according to Philip Klotzbach, a Colorado State University meteorologist and hurricane expert.

Landfall may have thwarted at least some of Agatha's energy late Monday as the forecast for sustained winds brought a reduced estimate of 70 mph. The hurricane center said Mexico discontinued its tropical storm warnings for some of the Pacific coast but activated it for the stretch from Puerto Escondido to Salina Cruz.

The warnings mean maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph, storm surges and coastal flooding. The tropical cyclone continued to move toward the northeast at 8 mph late Saturday.

Agatha's probable path takes it across the state of Oaxaca and the skinny waist of Mexico and onto the tropical Gulf Coast by early Wednesday, according to the hurricane center.

It will bring heavy rain, including as much as 20 inches in Oaxaca, the hurricane center said.

However, U.S. forecasters said the storm is likely to dissipate by the time it reaches the warm waters of the gulf, which is known to incubate its own hurricanes.