A sprawling Hurricane Dean slammed into Mexico for the second time in as many days and quickly stretched across to the Pacific Ocean Wednesday, drenching the central mountains with rain that swelled rivers before weakening into a tropical storm.
Coming ashore with top sustained winds of 160 kph (100 mph), Dean's center hit the tourism and fishing town of Tecolutla shortly after civil defense workers loaded the last evacuees onto army trucks and headed to inland shelters.
There was no escaping the wide storm's hurricane-force winds, which lashed at a 100-kilometer (60-mile) stretch of the coast in Veracruz state.
"You can practically feel the winds, they're so strong," Maria del Pilar Garcia said by telephone from inside the hotel she manages in Tuxpan, a town some 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of where Dean made landfall. "I hope this passes quickly and the rivers don't overflow."
Sounds of crashing metal prompted farmer Moises Aguilar to take a dangerous risk in Monte Gordo, 35 kilometers (20 miles) down the coast from Tecolutla. At the height of the storm, he dashed outside his house, about 300 meters (yards) from the sea, and struggled against the wind as his neighbor's roof ripped apart.
"We've closed the curtains because we don't want to see what is going on out there," Aguilar said, his voice nearly drowned out by another crash. "I think that's more metal roofing from my garage."
At 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT, 2100 GMT), Dean was located 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Mexico City, where it generated steady rain, and was moving west at 28 kph (17 mph). The Hurricane Center predicted it would dissipate Wednesday night or Thursday morning over the mountains of central Mexico.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969