Hurricane Emily is losing some punch, but probably only temporarily, as it pelts Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula with rain and wind. It's expected to pick up strength again as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico to northern Mexico and possibly southern Texas.
Overnight, the storm slammed onto land as a powerful Category 4 storm, snapping concrete utility poles with its winds of 135 mph and punishing waves along the region's famous white-sand beaches. By mid-morning, it had been downgraded to Category 2.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Emily made landfall near Tulum — 100 miles south of Cancun. The northern eyewall — where the worst weather would be expected — passed directly over Cozumel, it said.
No deaths were immediately reported from the storm's landfall. Emily earlier was blamed for four deaths in Jamaica, and two helicopter pilots were killed Sunday while attempting to evacuate an oil rig off the Mexican coast in high winds.
The hurricane knocked out power and phone service to much of Mexico's famous Riviera Maya coastline, where tourists rode out the storm in sweltering, makeshift shelters set up in schools and hotel ballrooms.
"We have some trees down, we have some damage, but the people are safe right now, and they are in their rooms," desk clerk Fernando at the El Cid la Ceiba Beach Hotel in Cozumel told CBS Radio News.
The hotel is advising its guests to stay inside for now.
"Until we clean up the area, we recommend them to be in the room, take a rest," he said.
"The damage is relatively minor," reports
Although Emily weakened to a Category 2 hurricane while crossing the peninsula, it was expected to gather strength again after hitting Gulf waters later Monday.
A hurricane watch was issued from Cabo Rojo, Mexico, to Baffin Bay, Texas. The brunt of the second landfall was forecast to hit northeast Mexico late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
"Emily will make landfall once again late Tuesday into early Wednesday over the northern sections of Mexico, about 100 miles or so south of Brownsville," says CBS News Meteorologist George Cullen. "The effects for southern Texas will be some heavy rain and squally winds."
In Cancun, hundreds of buses moved more than 25,000 people — mostly tourists — to temporary shelters on Sunday, evacuating them from hotels and low-lying seaside neighborhoods in Cancun being battered by strong waves.
They were among the nearly 60,000 tourists being evacuated statewide from resorts like Tulum, Playa de Carmen and Cozumel, an island famous for its diving. Cancun's airport closed Sunday afternoon after thousands lined up at ticket counters, trying to get flights out before the storm hit.
Hundreds of mostly foreign tourists lay shoulder-to-shoulder on thin foam pads in a sweltering gymnasium near the center of Cancun. They were given free bottled water and sandwiches, but many gasped when a hard rain rattled the metal roof of the building.
"It's hot in here," said Beth McGhee, 46, a tourist from Independence, Mo. "We feel like we've been kept in the dark until this morning. But we're safe, and that's what's important."
"There's no power, no air conditioning. It was about 97 degrees during the day here yesterday, so you can imagine it was a long, hot, uncomfortable night in those shelters," said Cowan.
"We want to get out of here as quick as we can. We all smell and there is no fresh running water," said British tourist Jarham Briehtol.
Power was knocked out all along the coast, as Emily's winds snapped concrete utility poles along a half-mile stretch of highway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Ground floor windows were shattered in most businesses in Playa del Carmen, and residents waded through knee-deep water along some streets.
Mexico's state-owned oil company said Sunday that two pilots were killed in the Gulf of Mexico when their helicopter was downed by strong winds as they tried to land on an offshore oil rig to evacuate workers.
The aircraft was part of a fleet of 15 ships and 26 helicopters working to transfer 15,500 oil workers to shore. The platform evacuations closed 63 wells and halted the production of 480,000 barrels of oil per day.
In Jamaica, which Emily had hit earlier, searchers on Sunday found the four bodies trapped inside a car, which was filled with mud and other debris, police said. A man, a woman, an infant boy and his 5-year-old sister had been driving through a flooded rural road in southwest Jamaica when a surge of water pushed them over a cliff, police said.
The Cayman Islands escaped major damage. The islands and a handful of other Caribbean countries were devastated last year when three catastrophic hurricanes — Frances, Ivan and Jeanne — tore through the region with a collective ferocity not seen in years, causing hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in damage.