Hurricane Grace is now a category 3 storm as it closes in on Mexico

The category 3 hurricane will bring heavy rain this weekend that is likely to cause flooding.

The center of Grace is about 50 miles offshore, the US National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. update. Conditions along the coast are beginning to deteriorate with heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds moving onshore.

Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro and eastern San Luis Potosí could see 6 to 12 inches of rain with isolated totals up to 18 inches through Sunday, the hurricane center forecasters predicted.

“Once the center of Grace moves inland over the mountains of central Mexico, the cyclone should rapidly weaken and then dissipate … However, its remnants appear likely to move into the eastern Pacific and lead to the development of a new tropical cyclone in that basin later this weekend or early next week,” the hurricane center said Friday afternoon in its discussion about the storm.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Mexico’s coast from Puerto Veracruz north to Cabo Rojo. A warning means hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area in the next 36 hours; a watch indicates hurricane conditions are possible in that area in the next 48 hours.

Additionally, a storm surge of 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels is possible, according to the hurricane center. Swells across the area are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

“Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the center said.

Grace already hit Mexico once before

When Grace hit Mexico the first time, it plunged through the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday and weakened to a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 80 mph.

The eastern coast of the Yucatán, including Cancun, Cozumel and Punta Herrero, were under a hurricane warning since Tuesday due to Grace becoming better organized as it moved west, battering Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Businesses braced for landfall, and at least 125 tourists were evacuated from hotels to shelters, Quintana Roo state Gov. Carlos Joaquín González said Wednesday.

“In Tulum, hotels have been evacuated, and the tourists taken to different hotel shelters,” González said on Twitter.

Haiti death toll rises as tropical storm hits earthquake zone

In Quintana Roo, work-related activities were suspended. Local leaders asked businesses to shut down temporarily, and urged residents to stay at home or in shelters.

Earlier this week, Grace also passed over Haiti, which was in recovering from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed least 1,941 people. About 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, were affected by the earthquake, according to UNICEF.

CNN’s Taylor Ward, Gene Norman, Haley Brink, Michael Guy, Travis Caldwell and Judson Jones contributed to this report.

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