'Extraordinary' rainfall starts flooding woes in southern Mexico
It may be near the end of the tropical season, but October hurricanes like Sandy, Matthew and Michael still packed a punch.
Southern Mexico was hit with rounds of heavy rain that left flooding in the streets. To add insult to injury, even more heavy rain could be on the way.
Flooding downpours developed on Wednesday night along a stationary front draped from the Yucatán Peninsula into southern Chaipas, Mexico. While a general 25-50 mm (1-2 inches) of rain fell across northern Chiapas and southernmost Campeche, the heaviest rains overnight centered on southern Tabasco. Widespread rainfall totals of 100-150 mm (4-6 inches) were recorded in just a few hours by early Thursday morning in Tabasco.
These torrential downpours led to serious flooding overnight for a many residents of Villahermosa, Mexico, Tabasco's capital city. Floodwaters turned streets into rivers, covered sidewalks and left cars stranded across the Tamulté de las Barrancas Colony within Villahermosa.
According to the Governor of Tabasco, Adán Augusto López Hernández, at least 70 families were told to evacuate from their homes overnight from Tamulté de las Barrancas. The Governor also confirmed that civil protection agencies, along with the Mexican Army, would be working in coordination with the impacted population toward recovery.
Preparations to protect lives and property began in advance of Wednesday night's downpours as the Institute of Civil Protection of the State of Tabasco (IPCET), worked to distribute more than 900 sandbags to residents living in flood-prone areas.
Heavy rains have also acted to increase the pressure on the carrying capacity of the Peñitas Dam, located near the border of Tabasco and Chiapas. On Thursday night, the National Committee for Large Dams (Comité Nacional de Grandes Presas) made the decision to increase the amount of water released from the Peñitas Dam to prevent overflow.
An increase in flow out of the dam will likely lead to flooding issues for communities in Tabasco downstream of the Peñitas Dam. In a series of tweets Thursday night, Governor López Hernández warned the communities of Centro, Cunduacan, Jalpa de Méndez and Nacajuca to remain on alert for flooding.
Heavy downpours will continue to deluge southern Mexico as the stationary front remains over the area through the end of the week.
As a result of this stationary front, rainfall totals of 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) are forecast across portions of Quintana Roo and Yucatán, while amounts of 150-250 mm (6-10 inches) could fall across of Campeche. Rainfall totals in excess of 250 mm (10 inches) will target northern Chiapas and Tabasco, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 400 mm (16 inches).
Heavy storms bubble up along a stationary front in southern Mexico while tropical activity increases across Central America on Friday morning. (CIRA/RAMMB)
Unfortunately for residents of southern Mexico, these heavy rains are just the beginning, as a new tropical threat takes shape.
Tropical Depression 25 formed in the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday morning and may undergo additional strengthening as it move northwestward through the weekend.
Regardless of the exact strength of the storm, heavy tropical rain will deluge the Yucatan and residents of Guatemala, Belize and Honduras as this system develops and meanders slowly into the Gulf of Mexico.
There could even be a second tropical system forming in this area next week, sending another round of heavy rain and flooding to the region.
While tropical development brews east of Mexico, the western coast of Mexico will also need to deal with another tropical concern: Hurricane Marie.
As of Friday morning, Marie was a dangerous Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with sustained winds of 209 km/h (130 mph).
Marie is now the third major hurricane (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) to develop in the East Pacific this hurricane season. Marie joins former 2020 East Pacific hurricanes Genevieve and Douglas, which both reached Category 4 strength. Fortunately, Marie will not make a direct strike on land, but it will still make its presence felt in the form of rough seas.
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