Remnants of Agatha kick off Atlantic hurricane season

(NewsNation) — This year’s hurricane season started with a storm in Mexico that is one of the strongest to ever come ashore from the eastern Pacific in May.

Hurricane Agatha caused flooding and mudslides, killing at least 11 people and leaving 20 others missing as of Wednesday morning.

Oaxaca Gov. Alejando Murat said rivers overflowed the southern state’s banks and swept people away, while other victims were buried under mud and rocks.

The hurricane is considered a strong Category 2, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. In San Isidro del Palmar, residents waded through neck-deep water to salvage what items they could from their homes.

Argeo Aquino, who has lived in the town his whole life, told the Associated Press he could recall only two other occasions when he saw such flooding.

“The houses are totally flooded, so they are getting everything out,” Aquino said Monday as he watched his neighbors. “There are stores, houses. More than anything else, we have to try to save all the good material, because everything else is going to be washed away.”

Agatha made landfall Monday and is now crossing over Mexico. Remnants of the hurricane could reform into a new storm in the Gulf this week. There was a little activity Wednesday morning off the Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun and Cozumel. The National Hurricane Center is giving a 50% chance of storms in the next two days for that zone and a 70% chance in the next five days.

Potentially called Hurricane Alex, the system is aimed toward the southern half of Florida and is expected to generate a lot of rain — anywhere from 6 to 8 inches of rainfall is possible.

More powerful storms could be in store this year, as the National Hurricane Center has forecast a 65% chance that there will be an above-average season. That’s because of warmer sea waters, lower wind shear and La Niña, which is characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Altogether, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 14 to 21 named storms in the Atlantic this season, with six to 10 becoming hurricanes and three to six turbo-charging into major hurricanes with winds greater than 110 mph.

In the United States, federal officials are launching a new initiative to modernize building codes so that communities can be more resilient to hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

Updated building codes provide a range of smart design and construction methods “that save lives, reduce property damage, and lower utility bills,” according to a news release announcing the National Initiative to Advance Building Codes.

Federal agencies will use $225 million in infrastructure funding already approved for the U.S. Department of Energy to support energy code adoption, enforcement, training and technical assistance at the state and local level.

They also predict that newer codes could deliver $138 billion in energy cost savings and prevent carbon emissions equivalent to what 195 million gasoline cars emit in a year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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