Hurricane Willa, a Category 4 storm, advanced on Monday toward Mexico’s popular Pacific coast, threatening a tourist hub and fishing villages. The Mexican government has warned residents to evacuate high-risk areas and seek shelter.
Willa is headed to shore at maximum sustained winds of 233 kilometers (145 miles) per hour, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest update.
Despite downgrading from Category 5 to 4 on approach, “Willa is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico,” the NHC said.
The authorities warned that Willa could produce “life-threatening” storm surges, wind and rainfall with large and destructive waves, and have a “potentially catastrophic” impact on western-central and south-western regions of the country.
Mexican authorities urged residents to evacuate their homes and head to temporary shelters. Shipping ports have been closed, school was canceled, and beachside activities were also suspended.
The storm is set to make landfall south of the resort town of Mazatlan, in Sinaloa state, on Tuesday afternoon local time. But other tourist destinations in the neighboring state of Nayarit are also near to the storm’s path.
Willa could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain to parts of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa states, while flash flooding and landslides could occur in mountainous areas.
Further south, Tropical Storm Vicente is also set to make landfall on Tuesday and expected to bring heavy rainfall and flooding over Mexico’s south and southwest.
Officials have already reported 12 deaths due to heavy rains as Vicente approached.
Mexico’s Pacific coast has already experienced deadly storms and rains this hurricane season. In September, at least 15 people were killed during flash floods in the states of Sinaloa and Michoacan.