A Category 2 hurricane, named Agatha, made landfall in Puerto Angel, Mexico, Monday afternoon.
The storm is packing 105 mph winds, and promises to deliver heavy rain and big waves into Tuesday.
A meteorologist told Insider he's predicting possible mudslides and infrastructure damage.
Hurricane Agatha, a cyclone that could prove to be the most powerful May hurricane ever to make landfall in the eastern Pacific, made landfall in the southwestern town of Puerto Angel, Mexico, around 5:00 pm ET on Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of Monday afternoon, the Category 2 hurricane was moving northeast at eight miles per hour bringing 105 mile-per-hour wins to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and nearby resort destinations dotting the area's southwestern Pacific coastline.
Experts warn that in addition to strong winds, Hurricane Agatha promises to bring powerful waves and set off other dangerous events, like mudslides.
The storm's outer reaches began lashing the area as of midday Monday, a meteorologist at forecasting company AccuWeather, Inc. told Insider.
Agatha could unleash "extremely dangerous coastal flooding from storm surge" in the area where it's slated to make landfall, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said on Monday. The group added that people in its path should brace for "life-threatening hurricane-force winds."
"We have been watching the potential of this system to develop since early last week," Paul Walker, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, which is based in State College, Pennsylvania, told Insider. "They're already starting to feel the outer fringe of this storm along the coast and the strong winds," he said early Monday of people in the Oaxaca area.
Walker added that AccuWeather predicts ramifications of the storm could include mud- and landslides, road closures, scattered debris, downed power lines, and damage to local infrastructure. Some locations could be showered by as much as two feet of rainfall, he said, with the NHC predicting that these rains could persist through Tuesday.
Some resort cities are in the hurricane's path
Right now, the tempest is heading toward tourist resorts, including the cities of Huatulco, Mazunte, and Zipolite, the Associated Press reported Sunday, adding that authorities in Huatulco mandated the "absolute closure" of beaches in the area.
Some of the areas in the region, such as Puerto Escondido, are popular summer surfing destinations. Travel + Leisure touted the city as a "surfer's paradise" and praised its "legendary waves" last year.
Walker said AccuWeather predicts Agatha's strength could weaken somewhat as it moves away from its primary source of strength — the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean — and over the Oaxaca area's mountainous terrain.
Over the coming days, Agatha may steadily churn northeast and cross over to the Atlantic Ocean, Walker said. By that point, the storm could reform somewhere over the northwest Caribbean, perhaps later in the week or over the weekend, he added.
"It's uncommon to get a hurricane in the eastern Pacific this time of year," Walker said, noting that just two other hurricanes made landfall in the region over the period from 1971 to 2021. One was in 1971 — also named Hurricane Agatha — and the other, Hurricane Barbara, came in 2013. Those tempests packed less power than this current storm when they made landfall, with their maximum winds reaching the low to mid-80s mph, Walker said.
Asked whether he believed climate change could have influenced Agatha's earlier-than-usual formation or outsized strength, Walker cautioned that it would be difficult to make such a connection without more information.
But, he said, "the ocean waters are warmer — so they're certainly adding more energy to them."
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