Hurricane Delta rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane with 215 kmh winds on Tuesday on a course to hammer southeastern Mexico and then grow to a potentially catastrophic Category 4 on approach to the US Gulf coast this week.
The immediate worst impacts were expected along the resort-studded northeastern tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where hurricane conditions were expected Tuesday night and landfall early Wednesday.
From Tulum to Cancun, tourism-dependent communities still being soaked Tuesday by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gamma could bear the brunt of the storm.
In Cancun on Tuesday, long lines stretched at supermarkets, lumber yards and gas stations as residents scrambled for provisions under mostly sunny skies. Officials warned that residents should have several days of water and food on hand. Mexico began evacuating tourists and residents from coastal areas along its Riviera Maya on Tuesday. Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquin said that buses were already carrying people off Holbox Island and all of the hotels in Puerto Morelos were busing their guests inland to government shelters.
Cancun hotels had already been told of their designated shelters and were transporting their guests. Some hotels that had exemptions because their structures were rated for major hurricanes were preparing to shelter their guests in place.