Hurricane Willa now an 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm as it nears Mexico
22 Octoberr, 2018
Hurricane Willa has grown into an "extremely dangerous," 145-mph Category 4 storm in the eastern Pacific on a path toward Mexico’s western coast, forecasters say.
Earlier on Monday, Willa had attained Category 5 status, with 160 mph winds.
Landfall is predicted for late Tuesday or early Wednesday, likely as a major hurricane (Category 3 or above), the National Hurricane Center said.
The center said Willa is expected to “produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday.” It also is expected to spawn life-threatening surf and rip tide conditions.
"Willa is expected to make landfall about 40-60 miles south of Mazatlan, Mexico," AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.
The area at risk includes a stretch of high-rise resort hotels, surfing beaches and fishing villages.
Hotels started taping up their windows and officials began evacuating thousands of people and shuttered schools in a low-lying landscape where towns sit amid farmland tucked between the sea and lagoons.
“The people don’t want to evacuate, but it’s for their security,” said Enrique Moreno, mayor of Escuinapa, a city of about 60,000 in Willa’s forecast path.
A hurricane warning was posted for Mexico’s western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan. Tropical storm warnings were raised from Playa Perula to San Blas and north of Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya.
As of 11 p.m. EDT Monday, Willa was centered about 195 miles south-southwest of Mazatlan. It was moving north at 9 mph.
The storm was growing in size: As of late Monday, hurricane-force winds extended 35 miles from Willa's center, and tropical-storm-force winds were up to 125 miles out.
The hurricane center predicted 6 to 12 inches of rain – and some places could see up to 18 inches – for parts of Mexico’s western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states, raising the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.
Willa may spread heavy rain and the risk for flooding across central Mexico and into the southern United States later in the week and into next weekend, AccuWeather said. That includes waterlogged Texas.
The 21st named tropical storm or hurricane in the eastern Pacific in 2018, Willa has exploded in strength over the past couple of days, from a 40-mph tropical storm to, briefly, a 160-mph monster.