Wilma Pounds Riviera Maya
Friday, October 21, 2005
Thousands of tourists are taking shelter as hurricane Wilma, downgraded to category 4, brings high winds and rain to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
At the time of this writing, hurricane Wilma is moving toward landfall on the Yucatan peninsula, bringing high winds and driving rain to Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The storm’s center is slowly moving past Cozumel, which has been lashed by rains and 145 mile-per-hour winds for much of today. Because this storm is moving so slowly, flooding is deemed likely in certain areas.
Thousands of tourists stranded in Cozumel by this storm have settled into makeshift shelters in auditoriums and other large buildings. Conditions in most shelters are uncomfortable, often described as cramped, hot and humid.
Though huddling in a sweltering gymnasium with a hurricane raging outside is undoubtedly a frightening experience, previous category 4 storms have left surprisingly little impact along the Riviera Maya. Earlier this year, hurricane Emily scored a direct hit on Cozumel, but minimal damage was reported, though several resorts had to close briefly for repairs. Power lines and street signs were torn down or uprooted, yet Cozumel’s basic services more or less normalized within a week, thanks to cleanup efforts. Many tourists who experienced Emily firsthand credit the local Mexican authorities with responding well to the situation.
Wilma is scheduled to hit southern Florida over the weekend, and forecasts predict that Wilma will weaken to a category 2 storm by this time. Though this may come as a relief to some storm-watchers, authorities in the Florida Keys are taking no chances. Mandatory evacuations are in effect across the Keys and the rest of Florida is preparing for Wilma’s arrival.
At this time, no resort hotels in Cozumel have posted any hurricane-related information online. Timeshare owners are encouraged to contact their resorts directly at the next available opportunity.