(CNN) – The latest forecast now shows Grace will continue to strengthen today, reaching sustained winds of 168 kph, a Category 2 force, later tonight. The Tornado Grace currently has sustained winds of 136 km/h with stronger gusts.
The hurricane is located about 321 kilometers east of Tuxpan, MexicoIt is moving west at 22 km/h. Hurricane-force winds extend outward for up to 30 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extend outward for up to 297 kilometers.
“Preparations to protect life and property must be completed quickly in hurricane warning areas,” the National Hurricane Center said. A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Mexico from Puerto Veracruz to Cabo Rojo. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Mexico from northern Cabo Rojo to Barra del Tordo.
A serious storm storm of 1.2 to 1.8 meters is expected along the immediate shoreline within the hurricane warning zone near and north of where the center makes landfall tonight.
A hurricane is expected within parts of the hurricane warning zone late tonight, and tropical storms are expected this afternoon. Heavy rains ranging from 152 to 304 mm are expected, with isolated totals of up to 457 mm expected to arrive as of Sunday. Heavy rains in Grace will cause flash floods and urban flooding, as well as landslides.
After Grace makes landfall, rapid weakening is expected as the hurricane moves inland over the mountains of central Mexico.
Grace has struck Mexico once before
When Grace first hit Mexico, it crossed the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday and retreated to turn into a tropical storm, enduring 130 km/h with higher gusts.
The eastern coast of Yucatan, including Cancun, Cozumel and Punta Herrero, has been under hurricane warning since Tuesday as Grace was better organizing as it moved west, hitting Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Companies ready to make landing and At least 125 tourists were evacuated from hotels to shelters, Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez said Wednesday.
“In Tulum, hotels have been evacuated and tourists have been moved to different hotel shelters,” Gonzalez said on Twitter.
In Quintana Roo business activities have been suspended. Local leaders called on businesses to close temporarily and urged residents to stay home or in shelters.
“The crossings from Cancun to Isla Mujeres have been suspended, and all ports are already closed to navigation. Waves are expected to reach 4 meters in height,” Gonzalez said.
Earlier this week, Grace also passed over Haiti, which was recovering from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 1,941 people. According to UNICEF, about 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, were affected by the earthquake.
Michael Jay, Travis Caldwell, Taylor Ward, Malaika Calingale, Madeline Holcomb and Judson Jones contributed to this report.
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