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Hurricane Delta threatens Cancun, Tulum with 'extremely dangerous' sea surges

Tropical Storm Delta moving toward the Gulf of Mexico, October 5. NOAA/via REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Delta strengthened on Tuesday and was forecast to make landfall overnight as a major storm near Mexico’s Caribbean resorts of Cancun and Tulum, threatening “extremely dangerous” sea surges, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The hurricane was about 125 miles (200 km) south of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph), the NHC said.

“Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Delta is expected to be a major hurricane over the Yucatan Peninsula Wednesday and over the Gulf of Mexico through Thursday,” the center said in an advisory.

Chevron Corp. has begun evacuating all personnel from its platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and is shutting in the facilities in preparation for the hurricane, it said on Monday.

Water levels could rise by as much as 9 feet (3 meters) over normal tide levels near where Delta makes landfall. The surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves within the hurricane warning area - from Tulum to the west of Cancun, the NHC said.

The Yucatan peninsula, including the chic destination of Tulum, famed for Mayan ruins and beach parties, was hit at the weekend by Hurricane Gamma, a smaller storm that nonetheless damaged some property.

The region at the heart of Mexico’s tourist industry has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, most recently the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global tourism.

Prior to that, the coast known as the Riviera Maya was affected by large quantities of Sargasso seaweed washing up on its pristine beaches.

As Gamma passed the peninsula, restaurants and attractions, including the Mayan pyramids of Chichen Itza, were closed.

Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico City; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Bernadette Baum