Hurricane Willa strengthens to category 5 off Mexico's Pacific coast

Doug Carpenter
October 23, 2018

The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for Willa to weaken some before landfall, but the storm is still expected to be a major hurricane, likely still a high-end Category 4, when it makes landfall on Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday morning, Willa had maximum sustained winds of near 160 miles per hour (260 kph), with higher gusts, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

2018 has seen 10 major hurricanes, including Willa, which ties 1992 as the most major hurricanes ever seen in the NE Pacific in one year.

It was located about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southeast of Puerto Angel with winds of 50 mph (85 kph).

Forecasters said Willa is expected to produce storm total rainfall accumulations of 6 to 12 inches, with local amounts up to 18 inches, across portions of western Jalisco, western Nayarit, and southern Sinaloa in Mexico.

At the time of landfall, the wind shear could pick up prompting debilitating of the system, however, it should still remain a strong and risky hurricane while moving inland late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

A hurricane warning is in effect for areas including San Blas, on the Pacific coast, and the beach resort of Mazatlan.

Willa is expected to deliver rainfall of up to 46cm (18in) along parts of south-west Mexico, the NHC said on Monday, as it reported that the storm was carrying winds of 256km/h (160mph).

Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the storm's center, and tropical storm-force winds were up to 105 miles out. It was moving north at 7mph.

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.

Residents have been told to expect flooding and potential landslides. The hurricane center said it could produce 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states. As the intensifying storm races up the east coast Saturday, it will begin to interact with the clipper to its west, and this interaction will strongly influence the exact track and resulting impact of the storm for Canadians.

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