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PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Mexico – Hurricane Agatha made history as the strongest hurricane on record in May during the Eastern Pacific hurricane season, hitting a sparsely populated stretch of small beach towns and fishing villages from southern Mexico.

The storm hit Oaxaca State on Monday afternoon as a powerful Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h), then quickly lost power as it was moving inland over the mountainous interior.

Agatha was downgraded to a tropical depression on Tuesday morning, with sustained winds up to 55 km/h. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to dissipate in the evening, but warned heavy rains from the system still posed a dangerous flood threat to southern states in Mexico.

The Oaxaca State Office of Emergency Services said late Monday that it had no reports of deaths.

Torrential rains and howling winds whipped palm trees and drove tourists and locals to shelters. The Oaxaca State Civil Defense Agency showed families scrambling in a shelter in Pochutla and a landslide and mud blocking a highway.

Heavy rain and big waves battered the seaside town of Zipolite, long known for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe.

“There is a lot of rain and sudden gusts of wind,” said Silvia Ranfagni, manager of the Casa Kalmar hotel in Zipolite. Ranfagni, who decided to take Agatha out to the property, said as the storm approached, “You can hear the wind howling.”

In the surf town of Puerto Escondido, people took shelter and installed plywood to keep windows from shattering in high winds.

Agatha formed on Sunday and quickly rose to power. It is the most powerful hurricane on record to make landfall in May in the eastern Pacific, said Jeff Masters, meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections and founder of Weather Underground.


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