Hurricane Willa, A 'Life-Threatening' Category 3, Makes Landfall In Western Mexico
Updated 11:01 p.m. ET
Hurricane Willa, which is a Category 3 storm, made landfall near Isla del Bosque, Sinaloa, in Western Mexico.
Willa is "extremely dangerous" and bringing "life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall" to Mexico's Pacific Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane center said at 11 p.m. ET that Willa's winds are at about 115 mph. The storm is traveling at 17 mph and was 55 miles east of Mazatlan, with storm surge occurring along portions of the coast, along with "large and destructive waves."
Storm surge is likely along parts of the southwestern Mexico coast, the NHC says. In coastal regions, the surge will be accompanied by large, destructive waves.
Willa is expected to dump 6 to 12 inches of rainfall, with local amounts to 18 inches, across portions of western Mexico, including western Jalisco, western Nayarit, southern Sinaloa and far southern Durango in Mexico. "This rainfall will cause life-threatening flash flooding and landslides," the NHC says.
A hurricane warning remains in effect for 180 miles of Mexican Pacific coast between San Blas and the resort town of Mazatlán. Hundreds more miles of coast are under a tropical storm warning, from north of Mazatlán to Bahia Tempehuaya and San Blas to Playa Perula.
The hurricane briefly reached Category 5 strength Monday but by Tuesday afternoon, Willa had degraded somewhat, with its 120 mph winds making it a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale. Forecasters predicted further, rapid weakening after landfall.
The storm has grown sharply since Saturday morning, when it became a tropical depression. Hours later, it became the 21st named storm of the Eastern Pacific season. And by Sunday morning, it was a quickly strengthening hurricane.
Preparation efforts in Mexico have been steadily underway since Monday. The Associated Press reports that 7,000 to 8,000 people are being evacuated in the low-lying regions of Sinaloa state, which sit amid farmland nestled between the ocean and lagoons.
Antonio Echevarría García, governor of the western state of Nayarit, told Reuters that more than 10,000 residents were being evacuated. Classes were canceled in schools in much of Nayarit.
"Let's not play the macho. Let's not act like superheroes," he told the news service. "It's a very strong hurricane, very potent, and we don't want any tragedies."
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has said that he ordered the National Civil Protection System to prepare to help people who suffer during the storm.
Emergency declarations have been issued in nearly 20 cities in the states of Nayarit and Sinaloa, and ports are closed in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mazatlán and other areas, according to the newspaper El Dictamen.
Ominously dark rain clouds began swirling inland over states in the southwestern and west-central Mexican coast Tuesday morning. By then, large waves had already begun hitting parts of the shore. Around 9 a.m. ET, the airport in Manzanillo reported a sustained wind of 40 mph, Mexico's National Meteorological Service reported.
After the hurricane makes landfall, remnants will likely "spread northeastward over northern Mexico and portions of Texas where a swath of heavy rainfall is expected midweek," the NHC said.
This year is now tied with 1992 for the second-highest number of major hurricanes in a single Northeast Pacific season. First place belongs to 2015, which had 11 major hurricanes.
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