Tropical storm Zeta developed into a hurricane over the Caribbean on Monday and was moving towards Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with winds of 130 kilometres per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
The category 1 hurricane was about 170 kilometres south-east of Cozumel island travelling at a speed of 17 kilometres per hour.
The east and north of Quintana Roo state were placed on a red alert. “On the forecast track, the centre of Zeta will move near or over the northern Yucatan Peninsula later today or tonight, move over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday,” according to the Hurricane Center.
The hurricane warning area extends from Tulum to Dzilam, including Cozumel. In other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, a tropical storm warning was in force.
In the state of Quintana Roo, which is popular among tourists, the authorities prepared more than 70 shelters in case people needed to be evacuated during rain and wind.
The maritime transport of passengers and cargo were suspended in the north, as well as many economic activities in Cancun and other localities.
In the neighbouring state of Yucatan, school classes were cancelled.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November, has been so intense it exhausted the pre-determined list of 21 first names and led to storms being named after letters of the Greek alphabet.
In early October, hurricane Delta made a landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula, causing flooding, power outages and uprooting trees.