Tropical Storm Gamma was a near-hurricane that caused severe rainfall, flooding, and landslides on the Yucatan Peninsula in early October 2020. The storm made landfall near Cancún around midnight on October 2, killing at least 21 people and leaving hundreds of others homeless.
Gamma is the first major hurricane of the 2020 season. It formed from a tropical wave that emerged off the coast of Africa in August. The wave's movement across the Atlantic Ocean resulted in the formation of several systems including a large low pressure area that gradually gained strength and became a tropical depression late on September 27. On the next day, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) classified it as Tropical Storm Gamma.
In terms of strength, Gamma was a moderate tropical storm with winds of 65 miles per hour (100 km/h). It brought heavy rain to portions of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula for several days, causing at least 21 deaths and leaving hundreds of people homeless.
The NHC warned that more flooding could occur as water levels rise from previous storms. They also noted that some coastal areas may experience stronger winds than what was previously expected.
At 00:00 UTC on October 3, the system proceeded to organize and intensified into Tropical Storm Gamma, becoming the early 24th tropical or subtropical Atlantic storm on record, exceeding the previous record of October 27, established by Hurricane Beta in 2005. The formation of Gamma was noted by several ships in the warning zone.
Gamma is the 10th named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. The first named storm of the year occurred at mid-level latitudes over the North Atlantic on August 20. Subtropical storms Ana and Betty were also observed during the month of August.
Tropical cyclones need three things to form: warm ocean water, energy from wind shear, and something cold to bond with heat as it rises. As long as any one of these conditions are present, more storms can form.
The Gulf Stream keeps temperatures near Europe and North America relatively constant, which allows time for rainstorms to develop into hurricanes. Even though most hurricanes originate in the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico, they can travel thousands of miles away from their origin point. Many factors determine where a particular storm will go, but climate change is likely to make tropical cyclones more frequent in certain regions.
Gamma is expected to remain a tropical storm as it approaches western Europe, although heavy rainfall caused by an associated frontal system could result in flooding in some countries.
After Tropical Storm Gamma slammed the Yucatan Peninsula, at least six people perished and others were evacuated in southeastern Mexico. Four people were killed, including two children, in Chiapas after a landslide buried a house. Another person was killed in Tabasco after being carried away by flood waves, while another perished.
Gamma was the deadliest storm to hit Mexico in decades. It caused widespread damage across the country's southeast peninsula before moving inland over Guatemala.
The hurricane made landfall near Cancún around 10:00 PM MST on August 23rd with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (105 kilometers per hour). It quickly weakened over land, but its heavy rains caused extensive flooding and mudslides throughout Quintana Roo and other parts of Yucatán State.
Two days later, Gamma reemerged into the Gulf of Mexico and soon strengthened into a tropical depression. On September 2nd, the depression made its second landfall near Tampico, Tamaulipas with winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kilometers per hour). It dissipated the next day.
In total, six people died in connection with the storm. One man was swept away by a river and never found; another person was killed when his car was swept away by a flooded road. A third person was killed when a wall collapsed on him as he rode out the storm in his home.
The Yucatan Peninsula is noted for its tropical rainforests and jungles, as well as being the ancestral home of the Maya people. Because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, the Yucatan Peninsula is vulnerable to hurricanes, which often strike during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November.
Hurricanes are powerful storms that can cause extensive damage when they reach land. They form over warm ocean waters or large bodies of water, such as oceans or lakes. When a low-pressure area in a hurricane moves over a region of high pressure, it causes the air to become unstable and more likely to turn into a storm. Hurricanes usually have several names because they can develop rapidly; therefore, meteorologists must monitor many systems at once when giving early warnings of their arrival.
There are two types of hurricanes: cyclones and typhoons. A cyclone has one central dense cloud center, while a typhoon has three or more centers. Tropical depressions that develop into tropical storms or hurricanes should be monitored by meteorologists to determine if they will become major storms.
Meteorologists use information about a storm's size, intensity, path, and previous activities to predict how likely it is to cause harm. They also use this information to advise people on what actions need to be taken to protect themselves.
CITY OF MEXICO— Early Wednesday, Hurricane Delta made landfall in southern Mexico at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, knocking out electricity, falling trees, smashing windows, and producing sporadic flooding in cities and villages along the Caribbean coast. The storm was moving inland when it struck and was expected to quickly move over land.
Delta is the first major hurricane of the season. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami says the storm has maximum sustained winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour and is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It is expected to bring heavy rains and destructive surf to parts of Mexico's popular resort area by Friday.
The NHC said there was no threat to land areas in Mexico. However, the agency did warn that large waves produced by Delta could cause damage to coastal roads and infrastructure.
Delta formed on August 20 near Nicaragua and began gaining strength after skirting the coast of Central America. It reached peak strength just before making landfall near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico late on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
The hurricane caused power outages across much of the Mexican Caribbean coast and damaged buildings in its path. One person was killed and three others were injured in Puerto Morelos, which suffered significant damage due to high tides and powerful waves generated by Delta.