Following Grace’s first landfall in Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane along the eastern Yucatán Peninsula on Thursday, the storm exploded in power Friday night, becoming the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season ahead of its second landfall.
Hurricane Grace made landfall near Tecolutla, Mexico, just before 1 a.m. CDT Saturday. At the time, Grace had sustained winds of 125 mph and was a strong Category 3 hurricane. If the storm had managed to gain just 5 mph of additional wind speed, it would have entered Category 4 hurricane territory.
Hurricane warnings remain in effect along the coast of mainland Mexico from the towns of Puerto Veracruz to Cabo Rojo.
Although the storm lost some wind intensity while crossing the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, Grace had restrengthened into a Category 2 hurricane by Friday evening. Just a few hours later, Grace had intensified further and became a Category 3 major hurricane. A hurricane receives the “major” designation at Category 3 or above.
Grace has been rated as a 3 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes, due to the heavy rainfall, strong wind gusts and storm surge that can create flash flooding, structural damage and power outages.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Friday morning that Air Force hurricane hunters had found that Grace developed into a hurricane once again. When they investigated the storm later that evening, they found it had intensified into a Category 2 hurricane and then quickly became a Category 3 hurricane.
From 11 p.m. EDT Thursday to 11 p.m. EDT Friday, Grace’s maximum sustained winds had burst from 65 mph to 120 mph, undergoing a process known as rapid intensification. The qualifications of this process require a storm’s maximum sustained winds to grow by over 30 knots (about 35 mph) over a 24-hour span of time.
Damaging wind gusts of 70-90 mph are possible near where Grace continues to move onshore following landfall in the first hour of Saturday morning with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 140 mph. This can lead to widespread power outages that may last for several days, along with downed trees and some structural damage.