Tropical Storm Delta forms, could strengthen into hurricane before hitting US

MEXICO CITY — Tropical Storm Gamma stalled just north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Monday after lashing the resort-studded coast with near-hurricane force winds and drenching the states of Tabasco and Chiapas with a deluge that killed at least 6 people and forced thousands from their homes.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Delta formed on Monday and is expected to become a hurricane, endangering the Cayman Islands and Cuba on a path into the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Delta is forecast to become a hurricane with winds around 100 mph before making landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast around Friday.

Forecasters said Delta could reach Category 2 status ahead of making landfall somewhere between the Louisiana-Texas border and the Florida Panhandle.

Mexico’s civil defense agency said in a statement that four of the deaths blamed on Gamma, including two children, were in Chiapas, where a landslide on a mountainous slope buried their home. The other two deaths were in Tabasco state, where one person was dragged away by the water and another drowned.

Gamma, along with cold fronts, combined over the weekend to cause extreme rains in parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas, affecting more than half a million people. The hardest-hit state was Tabasco, where more than 3,400 were evacuated to shelters.

The storm came ashore Saturday near Tulum with maximum sustained winds of nearly 70 mph according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Thousands of tourists were affected in a resort area that only recently reopened after a pandemic shutdown.

The state’s tourism department reported Friday on Twitter that more than 41,000 tourists were present in Quintana Roo, with hotels in Cancun and Cozumel already at more than 30% occupancy.

Mexican authorities continued to warn people in the Yucatan on Monday as Gamma stalled offshore. The hurricane center said early Monday that Gamma was about 170 miles northeast of Progreso, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Forecasters predicted up to 8 more inches of rain in the states of Yucatan, Campeche and Tabasco, producing significant flash flooding.