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story.lead_photo.caption Firemen remove a tree toppled by Hurricane Delta in Cancun, Mexico, early Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Hurricane Delta made landfall Wednesday just south of the Mexican resort of Cancun as a Category 2 storm, downing trees and knocking out power to some resorts along the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz Garcia)

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Delta emerged Wednesday into the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward Louisiana after making landfall just south of the Mexican resort of Cancun, toppling trees and cutting power to residents of the Yucatan peninsula's resort-studded coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Delta had weakened to a Category 1 storm by late afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, but it was expected to gain strengthen again before lashing the U.S. Gulf coast. It was centered about 55 miles north-northeast of Puerto Progreso, just off the northern edge of the peninsula,and heading northwest at 17 mph.

Delta could make landfall, possibly as a Category 3 storm, sometime Friday south of Morgan City, Louisiana.

The hurricane came ashore in Mexico around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday with top winds of 110 mph. Officials said it caused no deaths or injuries but did force hundreds of tourists to take refuge in storm shelters. It knocked out power to about 266,000 customers or about one-third of the total on the Yucatan peninsula.

There were no reports of any deaths or injuries, said Carlos Joaqun Gonzlez, the governor of the state of Quintana Roo.

"Fortunately, the most dangerous part of the hurricane has passed," Joaqun Gonzlez said, noting the big problem was downed trees that had knocked out power lines and blocked roadways.

Civil defense official Lus Alberto Ortega Vzquez said about 39,000 people had been evacuated in the states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan, and that about 2,700 people had taken refuge in storm shelters in the two states. Joaqun Gonzlez said some tourists who had to take refuge at storm shelters had not yet been allowed to return to their hotels, where cleanup was underway, but said he hoped they would be able to by the end of the day.

There were reports of some flooding in Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. Overnight emergency calls came in from people whose windows or doors were broken and they were taken to shelters, he said.

Early Wednesday, guests of the Fiesta Americana Condesa hotel awoke in the sweltering classrooms of the Technological Institute of Cancun campus where they had been moved Tuesday.

All of the windows at the campus had been covered with plywood so they couldn't see what was happening, but they said the howling winds started around 2 a.m. and there had been heavy rain. The power — and with it the air conditioning — had been knocked out early Wednesday so it was steamy as tourists used their cell phone light to get up and make their way for a first cup of coffee.

By early afternoon, they were returned to their hotel and the state announced businesses could reopen at 3 p.m. and the ban on alcohol sales was lifted.

"The hard part has been the waiting," said Ana Karen Rodrguez, of Monterrey. She and a friend arrived Tuesday morning in Cancun and by afternoon were shuttled to the shelter. She said the hotel had planned well. "It's been good. I feel comfortable actually."

Throughout the day Tuesday, the situation had appeared grave for this stretch of the Mexican coast.

Delta had increased in strength by 80 mph in just 24 hours, and its top winds peaked at 145 mph before it weakened as it neared the shore.

Thousands of Quintana Roo residents and tourists hunkered down in government shelters. Everyone had been ordered off the streets by 7 p.m.

The evacuations of low lying areas, islands and the coastline expanded as Delta exploded over the warm Caribbean waters offshore. Much of Cancun's hotel zone was cleared out as guests were bused to inland shelters. In Cancun alone, the government opened 160 shelters.

State tourism officials said more than 40,000 tourists were in Quintana Roo, a fraction of what would normally be there. Delta's damage comes on top of months of pandemic-induced lockdown that has devastated the state's tourism industry.

Louisiana or Mississippi residents should prepare now for hurricane-force winds to begin hitting their coastlines Friday, the hurricane center advised.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Delta was expected to make landfall there Friday night or Saturday morning and the entire state is in the storm's possible path. State and local officials in coastal areas were shoring up levees, sandbagging and taking other protections measures, he said.

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