50 years ago today, Hurricane Beulah lashes Yucatán

Hurricane Beulah was banner-headline news on Sept. 18, 1967. Photo: Facebook
Hurricane Beulah was banner-headline news on Sept. 18, 1967. Photo: Facebook

Today is an anniversary some of our older neighbors would probably rather forget. On Sept. 17, 1967, Hurricane Beulah reached the Peninsula, killing 11 people, ruining crops and destroying countless buildings.

The Peninsula was still recovering from Hurricane Inéz 11 months earlier. The storm first hit Cozumel, with winds of 160 kilometers/99 miles per hour, and gusts of 205/ 126. Almost all the buildings there were damaged, half losing roofs.

Diario de Yucatán’s coverage of Hurricane Beulah in 1967. Photo: Facebook
Damage in Mérida from Hurricane Beulah in 1967. Photo: Facebook
A Coca-Cola advertisement collapses in the Centro. Photo: Facebook

In the region, more than 5,000 people lost their homes, and another 30,000 were heavily affected by the hurricane. In Mérida, winds slowed to 120 kph/75 mph, but enough to cause severe damage and flood the roads.

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Along the coast, the tide went up to 550 meters, destroying roads and docks, and leaving a “boat cemetery.”

The easternmost cities in the state of Yucatán, Tizimín in particular, were dealt a harsh blow. That year, most of the region’s crops were lost.

Heading into the Gulf of Mexico, it gained strength, briefly becoming a Category 5 storm. It made landfall just north of the mouth of the Rio Grande River as a Category 3 storm, spawning 115 tornadoes across Texas. Before it was done, Beulah claimed at least 59 lives.

With this cyclone, a record-breaking truce with Mother Nature began: It was another two decades before Yucatán was hit, when Huricane Gilberto arrived in 1988.

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