Cancun, Riviera Maya, Q.R. — Tropical Storm Gama slowly crawled away from the Cancun, Riviera Maya region Saturday night, heading over the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula before it will make its way into the Gulf of Mexico where it’s expected to dissipate next week.
The storm arrived with the anticipated heavy rains and strong winds, generating a hurricane warning Saturday afternoon just before officially making landfall between Tulum and Playa del Carmen.
While the storm did not develop into a hurricane, Gamma’s strength was felt. Residential areas along a majority of the coast were affected by the storm’s power with Tulum being the hardest hit. Emergency shelters were set up and 40 people evacuated from around the municipality.
Along the coast, downed electric poles, scattered furniture and felled trees were a common sight as were flooded streets and general material damage.
Officials were out in full force attending to emergencies that arose during the passing of the storm. State police helped relocate stranded people in rural areas of Tulum, while elements from the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) patrolled roadways also offering their assistance to those in need.
City workers from Tulum to Cancun battled the wind and rain to tend to flooded areas, while others were busy dealing with felled trees and downed power lines. Power outages were felt in various areas around the region with some lasting from several minutes to several hours.
A total of 39 flights scheduled to land at Cancun International were canceled Saturday, while another 20 were delayed. Cozumel City Council said they had 1,528 tourists on the island as Tropical Storm Gamma passed. At least two flights scheduled to land at Cozumel were affected by the storm.
The Cozumel-Playa del Carmen and Cancun-Isla Mujeres ferry routs were “suspended until further notice”, while all maritime terminals closed to vessels, according to information issued by the Port Captain and the Port Administration of Quintana Roo. Nearly 30 small vessels were either fully or partially sunk at Tulum due to high waves.
Mexico’s National Meteorological Service (SMN) had warned of 250 mm of rainfall with the passing of Tropical Storm Gamma. According to the National Hurricane Center, maximum sustained winds were close to hurricane strength at 70 mph. Tropical Storm Gamma is the third storm of the hurricane season to rely on the Greek alphabet after having used the 21 designated storm names for the 2020 Atlantic season.