Hurricane Agatha strengthens and heads into southern Mexico

The first Eastern Pacific hurricane of the season strengthened on Sunday as it tracked down Mexico’s southern coast, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph expected to worsen before the storm makes landfall on Monday .

“Further strengthening is expected over the next 12 to 24 hours and Agatha is expected to become a major hurricane when it reaches the southern coast of Mexico on Monday,” the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Florida said.

As of 4 p.m. Sunday, Mexico City time, Hurricane Agatha was located about 300 kilometers southwest of Puerto Angel, according to the NHC.

Hurricane warnings have been declared for parts of the Oaxaca coast, stretching from Salina Cruz to Lagunas de Chacahua, the NHC said.

“The storm surge is expected to produce extremely dangerous coastal flooding,” he said.

Hurricane Agatha is seen off the Pacific coast of Mexico in this satellite image on Sunday. (NOAA/Associated Press)

In Oaxaca, authorities have set up 200 shelters along the coastal region with a capacity to house 26,000 people, according to local civil protection.

Some 5,000 tourists are expected to be in the impact zone, which is home to popular beach destinations.

The storm is expected to bring heavy rains to the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero, the NHC said, which could trigger “life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides.”