Hurricane Willa Strengthens to Category 5 Storm, Aims for Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Hurricane Willa as seen from NOAA's GOES Wast satellite Sun. Oct. 21 2018.                        NOAA

Willa had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (249 kph) early Monday and was centered about 195 miles (315 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes.

It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later on Monday (Tuesday NZT), generating life-threatening surf and rip tide conditions.

Willa briefly reached Category 5 strength, then weakened a bit to Category 4.

The centre said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Officials were mainly concerned with storm surge, or rising sea levels, that could see 10-meter waves strike Mazatlan, a Sinaloa beach resort expected to receive heavy rains and flooding.

To the southeast of Willa is Tropical Storm Vicente, which is weakening and is "barely a tropical storm", said the NHC in its latest update on October 22. Heavy rainfall will also cause unsafe conditions, as six to twelve inches are forecast to fall.

Willa is expected to come ashore on Tuesday afternoon or evening local time (Tuesday night or Wednesday morning British time).

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Authorities have rushed to evacuate low-lying areas and set up shelters as an "extremely dangerous" Hurricane Willa with winds of 145mph heads for a stretch of Mexico's Pacific coast.

Mexico's Pacific coast on Monday braced for Hurricane Willa as the powerful storm advanced towards the mainland. The outgoing forecast has Willa turning into a Hurricane Sunday morning as it begins a northwest turn in the eastern Pacific.

It had maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (75 km/h) and the center of the storm would likely remain just offshore or near the southern coast of Mexico through Tuesday morning, according to the NHC.

"This rainfall will cause life-threatening flash flooding and landslides", it added.

Farther to the south, a weakening Tropical Storm Vicente was expected to dissipate soon, but it still caused heavy rainfall that caused unsafe flooding in southern and southwestern Mexico.

From 40mph Tropical Storm to 155mph hurricane in 48 hours.

Increasing numbers of major hurricanes, along with a greater propensity of storms to undergo "rapid intensification" are expected consequences of warmer ocean waters resulting from climate change. The ocean waters off the western coast of Mexico are now running 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit above average for late October.

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