Mérida, Yucatán — With the arrival of spring comes not only extreme heat but violent and damaging cold fronts known as cordonazos.
The first cordonazo of the season is expected this weekend, said meteorologist Juan Antonio Palma Solís.
Last spring, one such storm system hit many by surprise, toppling trees and damaging property.
Strong winds, hail and squalls bring risks for the coastal population each April and May, said Palma.
Cold fronts bring an air-mass shock when temperatures hover around 40C/104F, resulting in violent storms.
The most recent cordonazo was on May 4, 2017, when a sudden, powerful storm lashed both the coast and the city. Winds were accompanied with rain and hail around 3:30 in the afternoon.
Although a cold front had been predicted, and welcomed during a heat wave, the storm’s fury took many people off guard.
Winds reached 90 kph/55 mph with gusts of 100 kph/62 mph. Strongest winds were at the coast, particularly Progreso, according to the National Water Commission.
It was “almost like a hurricane,” said Diario de Yucatán.
Injuries and property damage was extensive. At least 20 ships broke their moorings at Yucalpeten. A tractor-trailer overturned on the Periférico and at least 30 trees were toppled in Mérida, one crushing a parked car. A brand new hotel at Uptown Mérida lost its glass railing.
A power outage lasted hours.
An experienced mariner who runs Meteorología Río Lagartos, a Facebook page that tracks coastal weather, Jesús Guadalupe Rosado Marrufo explains that from mid-April to mid-May, fishermen from Rio Lagartos and other coastal regions are well aware that some intense cordonazos are coming.
He predicted several cordonazos this season, although the most important and respected by the population is the Cordonazo de la Santa Cruz. Legend has it that this mightiest of the storms comes around May 3.
The present storm system is rooted in an Arctic polar air mass from Canada and due Saturday morning in the Gulf of Mexico. It will rapidly advance toward Yucatán coast, said Palma.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms over the Peninsula are expected by Saturday night, lasting possibly until noon on Sunday.
The force of the cold front and its encounter with much warmer air will possibly create hail and powerful squalls. Waves up to three meters high are predicted on the high seas.