Grace’s center is about 50 miles offshore, the United States National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. update. Conditions along the coast are starting to deteriorate with heavy rains and tropical storm force winds moving towards the shore.
Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro and eastern San Luis Potosí could see 6 to 12 inches of rain with isolated totals of up to 18 inches through Sunday, forecasters from the hurricane center predicted.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Mexican coast from Puerto Veracruz north to Cabo Rojo. A warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere in the warning zone within the next 36 hours; a watch indicates that hurricane conditions are possible in this region for the next 48 hours.
Additionally, a storm surge of 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels is possible, depending on the center of the hurricane. Swells in the area are likely to cause life-threatening surf and surge current conditions.
“Near the coast, the wave will be accompanied by big, destructive waves,” the center said.
Grace has hit Mexico once before
The east coast of Yucatán, including Cancun, Cozumel, and Punta Herrero, had been under hurricane warning since Tuesday due to Grace’s improved organization as she moved west, hitting Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Businesses braced for land and at least 125 tourists were evacuated from hotels to shelters, Quintana Roo state governor Carlos Joaquín González said on Wednesday.
“In Tulum, hotels have been evacuated and tourists taken to different hotel shelters,” González said on Twitter.
In Quintana Roo, work-related activities have been suspended. Local leaders have called on businesses to temporarily close and urged residents to stay in their homes or in shelters.
Earlier this week, Grace also passed through Haiti, which was recovering from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that killed at 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.