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

Ismael LynchOct 23, 2018

Hurricane Willa has continued to strengthen off Mexico's Pacific coast, becoming a powerful category five storm as it moves closer to land, USA forecasters say.

Alberto Hernandez, head of the SMN, said the storm would probably be a Category 4 or 3 hurricane when it reached land, and could cause waves several meters (feet) high. It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday morning, generating life-threatening surf and rip conditions.

Willa, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, is about 85 miles from Las Islas Marias - or about 140 miles west of Puerto Vallarta - moving north at 9 mph, the latest NHC's advisory says.

The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close Monday and begin preparing emergency shelters.

"Willa is moving toward the north near 8 miles per hour, and this general motion should continue tonight".

It was projected to weaken somewhat before hitting land but was still expected to be extremely unsafe.

The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for Willa to weaken some before landfall on Tuesday, but the storm is still expected to be a risky major hurricane.

Hurricane-force winds can be expected outward of up to 30 miles from the center of the storm; tropical-storm-force winds can extend outward of up to 105 miles.

A hurricane warning was posted for a stretch of shore between San Blas and Mazatlan.

Currently, indications are this storm may be the first true nor'easter of the season for parts of New England, with strong winds and heavy rain.

Tropical storm warnings ranged from Playa Perula north to San Blas and from Mazatlan north to Bahia Tempehuaya, according to the Hurricane Center.

This comes as Hurricane Michael devastated the south-east coast of the United States, leaving communities reeling from the storm "hell".

Cat 4 storms also have the potential to cause life threatening storm surge of around 50 ft height, winds with a velocity of 209 to 251 kmph and exuberant rainfall while roaring inland.

Willa's torrential downpours are also likely to produce flash flooding and landslides over large parts of southwestern and west-central Mexico, NHC added.

In September, at least 15 people were killed when flash floods hit the states of Sinaloa and Michoacan, and last week 11 more died in Oaxaca, including seven children.

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