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What does this mean?

"Grace" war als Hurrikan auf die mexikanische Golfküste getroffen und hatte über Land dann rasch an Kraft verloren.

Source : https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/hurrikan-grace-mexiko-103.html

I don't understand the war and getroffen part. Perhaps it means that it "had hit the Mexican Gulf coast as a Hurricane". It just sounds very weird.

I do see here (https://www.verbformen.com/conjugation/treffen.htm) that it can be used with sein.

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Treffen can have a broad range of meanings (DWDS lists 8) and it can be used with an accusative object or with auf + accusative.

In most cases, the perfect uses haben.

However, when used with auf in the meaning of 'to hit, to encounter', which is the case here, sein must be used.

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The verb is not treffen but auf etw. treffen. This classifies it as a verb of motion, thus it is conjugated with sein. I believe it's mostly used in the past tense, i.e. "auf etwas/jemanden getroffen sein", alhough planemaker mentions in the comments that other tense are possible and in frequent use.

I concur, that the above sentence sounds a bit weird. An arguably better way might be

Der Hurrikan "Grace" war auf die mexikanische Golfküste getroffen und hatte über Land dann rasch an Kraft verloren".

In either case, the translation literally means the hurricane "met" the land, although "hit" seems the more fitting translation.

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    It doesn't sound so weird to me. "War als Hurrikan ... getroffen" means that it was only classified as a hurricane when it reached the land, before it lost force and was downgraded to a tropical storm.
    – DonHolgo
    Aug 22, 2021 at 12:13
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    Also, I don't see why auf etw. treffen should not be used in other tenses when describing a current event or a future event (e.g., in a weather forecast) Aug 23, 2021 at 5:38
  • "Wenn ihr einen bisher unerforschten Teil des Regenwaldes betretet, könntet ihr auch auf Ureinwohner treffen, die bisher noch keinen Kontakt mit der Außenwelt hatten". Das Verb 'auf etwas/jemanden treffen' lebt in allen Zeitformen und wird auch so genutzt Aug 23, 2021 at 8:03
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"war ... getroffen" and "hatte ... verloren" are plusquamperfect forms. And yes, it sounds weird because it shoud not be used here.

Your translation

"Grace" had hit the Mexican Gulf coast as a Hurricane

is adequate. A correct German sentence would be

"Grace" traf als Hurrikan auf die mexikanische Golfküste und verlor über Land dann rasch an Kraft.

An alternative is

"Grace" war als Hurrikan auf die mexikanische Golfküste getroffen, bevor sie über Land dann rasch an Kraft verlor.

This expresses the fact that there is a temporal succession: Grace lost power when it was over land (past tense), but before that it hit the coast (plusquamperfect).

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    If you think the pluperfect is incorrect, you should give a reason. I see none.
    – David Vogt
    Aug 23, 2021 at 5:44
  • @DavidVogt Do you seriously want that I include a grammar lecture about the use of plusquamperfect? Isn't the link in my answer sufficient? Quotation: " ... relating to an action that occurred antecedent to a contextually aforementioned time in the past". Aug 23, 2021 at 9:58
  • War getroffen is antecedent to everything mentioned in the first half of the article. Therefore, the pluperfect seems to have been used correctly.
    – David Vogt
    Aug 23, 2021 at 10:06
  • @DavidVogt I think it is gramatically and stilistically messy. "Grace" war als Hurrikan auf die mexikanische Golfküste getroffen und hatte über Land dann rasch an Kraft verloren. Allerdings prognostizierte der Wetterdienst für weite Teile des Landes heftigen Regen und warnte vor Erdrutschen und Überschwemmungen. So the forecast came after the arrival and the passing of the hurricane?
    – Paul Frost
    Aug 23, 2021 at 10:20
  • @PaulFrost Yes, the forecast came after because it isn't about the hurricane (as indicated by "Der Notstand ist nicht vorbei."). Everything the hurricane did is in the first half of the article and the sentence with the pluperfect introduces an antecedent to that.
    – David Vogt
    Aug 23, 2021 at 10:30
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There's two pages about treffen. "treffen" and "treffen_ist". Check out this one: https://www.verbformen.com/conjugation/treffen_ist.htm

Your translation with "had hit" sounds pretty accurate.

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