At least 11 people are dead and 20 are missing after Hurricane Agatha touched down in southern Mexico, causing dangerous flooding and mudslides, the governor of the southern state of Oaxaca said Tuesday.
Govt. Alejando Murat said rivers overflowed their banks and swept away people in homes, while other victims were buried under mud and rocks. Murat said the deaths appeared to be concentrated in a number of small towns in the mountains, just inland from the coast.
But he said there were also reports of three children missing near the resort of Huatulco.
“There were fundamentally two reasons” for the deaths, Murat told local media. “There were rivers that overflowed, and on the other hand, and the most serious part, were landslides.”
Forecasters expect the diminished tropical depression Agatha — which made landfall in Mexico on Monday as a hurricane — to bring heavy rain as far as South Florida over the next few days.
THE SEASON:NOAA hurricane forecast 2022: Up to 21 named storms possible; as many as 10 hurricanes could form
National Hurricane Center spokesperson Dennis Feltgen said a “large and complex area of low pressure” is forecast to develop near the Yucatan Peninsula and the northwestern Caribbean Sea within a couple of days. Rainfall is expected to spread across western Cuba, South Florida and the Florida Keys by the end of the week, he told USA TODAY.
That low-pressure area is partially related to Agatha’s remnants from the eastern Pacific, Feltgen said.
“Despite strong upper-level winds over the area, the system could become a tropical depression while it moves northeastward over the northwestern Caribbean Sea and southeastern Gulf of Mexico late this week,” Feltgen said.
Agatha made landfall Monday afternoon as a strong Category 2 hurricane 5 miles west of Puerto Angel in an area of fishing villages and small beach towns, packing maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.
Southern Mexico’s mountainous terrain quickly slowed Agatha down after landfall, the National Hurricane Center reported Tuesday late morning. Satellite imagery showed Agatha’s was still circulating, but its center had dissipated.
LANDFALL:Agatha makes landfall in southern Mexico; storm could redevelop in Atlantic
Remnants of the storm, which AccuWeather experts said made history as only the third recorded May hurricane to make landfall over Mexico, were expected to dump heavy rain across the southeastern portion of the country through Tuesday and over the next couple of days, the National Hurricane Center wrote in its final update on the storm.
Forecasters predict life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides from what’s left of Agatha, which had maximum sustained winds of about 30 mph as it moved north-northeast of Salina Cruz, Mexico, forecasters reported at 11 am Eastern time.
The Mexican state of Oaxaca could see between 10 to 16 inches of rainfall, with a chance of 20 inches falling in some isolated cases.
The Atlantic hurricane season starts Wednesday and runs through Nov. 30. Federal forecasters anticipate above-normal activity for the seventh straight year, with as many as 10 hurricanes possible.
Contributing: Associated Press