Hurricane Paula's winds probably won't be enough to damage Mexico's hotels and beach resorts as the storm skirts past the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on a path toward western Cuba, a risk analyst said.
Paula's strongest sustained winds were 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, according to a National Hurricane Center website advisory at 5 a.m. Miami time. The storm is a "small" Category 2 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the center said, BusinessWeek reports.
Authorities of the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, ordered the evacuation of 1,500 residents of Isla Holbox and 60 fishermen from Isla Contoy. The evacuees were taken to the town of Kantunilkin, on the Yucatan peninsula.
Hurricane Paula was expected to hit the islands of Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Holbox as it passed just off the southern coast of Yucatan, authorities said.
More than 1,800 tourists remained on Cozumel late Tuesday after authorities suspended all sea transportation. City officials said 16 shelters were available on the island but none had been used.
In Cancun, 15 flights were canceled Tuesday and seven international flights for Wednesday would be canceled, Cancun airport commander Jose Chavez said, according to Sify.