Hurricane Willa: Storm to smash into Mexico tourist hotspots as it strengthens

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Hurricane Willa, now a Category 4, is expected to land in the region late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hurricane Willa has intensified into a near-Category 5 storm in the Pacific - and is on track to slam into the western coast of Mexico by the middle of the week, officials said.

As of midday Monday, Willa was centered about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes and was moving at 7 mph (11 kph). As of 11 a.m. ET., Willa had maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour - just 3 miles per hour over the threshold for a Category 5.

Hurricane force winds extended out 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the storm's core and tropical storm force winds were up to 90 miles (145 kilometers) out.

At present, storm Willa is heading north-northwestwards, however, the system will gradually recurve northwards on Monday and then north-northeastwards by Tuesday.

Mexico has issued an alert for parts of its Pacific seaboard as it prepares for the "life-threatening" category five storm Hurricane Willa.

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

It will then weaken slightly before making landfall but will still be a unsafe hurricane when it does hit.

Storm surge and large, destructive waves are likely along parts of the southwestern coast by Tuesday or Tuesday night, especially near where Willa's center will make landfall, the NHC says.

The southwestern Mexican coast is warned to brace for unsafe storm surges which will impact on Tuesday.

This image provided by NOAA on Monday shows Hurricane Willa in the eastern Pacific, on a path to smash into Mexico's western coast.

Heavy rainfall will also cause risky conditions, as six to twelve inches are forecast to fall. It warned of the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.

Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.

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