Thousands of shelters ready for Yucatan’s 2019 hurricane season

Multiple hurricanes swirled in the Atlantic at one point in 2018. Photo: NOAA
Yucatan has thousands of shelters ready for the worst. Photo: File

Merida, Yucatan — More than 3,000 hurricane shelters have been prepared as the stormy season approaches on June 1.

The state has been setting up permanent and temporary shelters since April, ready for anyone forced to flee their homes during a hurricane.

An interactive map with all the area shelters is here. Officials recommend local residents bookmark this page.

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The shelters are run by 106 municipal councils, said the head of the State Coordination of Civil Protection, Enrique Alcocer Basto. They coordinate with the Mexican Army and the Secretariat of the Navy to be better prepared, he said.

Shelters are a last-resort option. Don’t expect much more than a mat on the floor and some food and water. Visitors should pack lightly and take a thick blanket, a change of clothes including extra shoes and important papers such as passports and birth certificates, in a plastic bag, along with emergency cash, medicines, and personal hygiene items.

In a shelter, only one suitcase per person is allowed. Only designated shelters, like the largest one at the Siglo XXI convention center, allow pets.

The forecast

While the Atlantic hurricane season begins in about two weeks, the Pacific hurricane season officials started Wednesday. Both seasons end Nov. 30.

The Pacific side is expected to be more active this year. But it’s the Atlantic and Caribbean where storms are more often relevant to the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Forecasters are calling for a close-to-normal Atlantic hurricane season. That would bring 12 to 14 named storms. Of those storms, five to seven are forecast to become hurricanes and two to four are forecast to become major hurricanes, according to AccuWeather. Forecasts from the National Hurricane Center, based in Miami, are here.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was surprisingly active. Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused significant damage in the southeastern U.S., while Yucatan went unscathed. Pemex reported no damage to their oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico. 

In Mexico, most hurricane activity was on the Pacific side, particularly Willa in October.

With information from Sipse, Notimex

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