Hurricane Dean hits Yucatan at Category 5
Hurricane Dean slammed into the eastern shore of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 4:30 a.m. today as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 miles per hour, but hit south of the main tourists resorts and the Port of Progreso on the peninsula's north shore.
The storm is the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall since Hurricane Andrew hit just south of Miami in 1992. While Hurricane Dean is causing power outages on the Yucatan, it did not make a direct hit on the most populated areas, landing just north of Chetumal, a city with a population of 130,000.
Port and shipping operations have been gearing up for the storm, with the Port of Progreso closed today and putting its hurricane plan into effect. Port officials said they have already received notification they will receive federal funding to assist with needed recovery and repair efforts.
Linea Peninsular, which offers five sailings a week between Panama City, Fla., and Progreso, has been able to operate its normal schedule so far. The Juan Diego departed from Progreso as scheduled on Saturday and arrived in Panama City Monday. The Progreso was on schedule to arrive in Panama City from Mexico this morning.
The U.S.-based carrier said that as of noon Monday, it had no containers, northbound or southbound, on the dock in Progreso.
Its vessels Bienville and Kopersand are fully loaded at Panama City with manifests sent to customs, and are ready to sail southbound as soon as the company gets news on the port status in Progreso.
Meanwhile, Jamaica is regaining its transportation services after Dean passed just south of Kingston on Sunday.
The Kingston Container Terminal, which is operated by the Maersk affiliate APM Terminals, was closed Monday. But operations will resume this morning, an official said.
Kingston's Norman Manley Airport was reopened Monday. The road between Kingston and the airport, which was closed by flooding, mud and debris after the storm hit, has also been cleared.
Jamaica Public Service Co. was in the process of restoring power in the Kingston area.
However, Hurricane Dean will have a more lasting effect on Jamaican agriculture and exports.
Marshall Hall, managing director of the Jamaica Producers Group, told Radio Jamaica the storm had basically destroyed the export banana crop.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said a hurricane warning would remain in effect this morning from the Belize border to Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula, and added hurricane warning status — meaning a hurricane is hitting or imminent — to the West Coast of the peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, from an area just south of Progreso southward and westward to Veracruz.
Officials said hurricane preparations in the warning area on the Gulf Coast should be rushed to completion, with the storm expected to emerge into the Gulf later today.