Hurricane Willa is expected to make landfall this evening near the Sinaloa-Nayarit border, bringing a life-threatening storm surge, strong wind and torrential rain.
The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Willa, currently a category 3 storm, is “expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico” although “gradual weakening is forecast today.”
Willa was located about 55 kilometers west-southwest of Las Islas Marias and 205 kilometers south-southwest of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, at 9:00am MDT and moving north-northeast at nine kilometers per hour. Winds were 205 kilometers per hour.
The hurricane is forecast to bring an extremely dangerous storm surge to southern Sinaloa and Nayarit accompanied by “large and destructive waves.”
Up to 46 centimeters of rain are forecast for parts of Jalisco, Nayarit, southern Sinaloa and southern Durango that will likely cause life-threatening flash flooding and landslides.
The National Meteorological Service (SMN) is forecasting storms with torrential rain in Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco. It also forecasting three to five-meter waves on the coasts of Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa.
A hurricane warning is in effect for San Blas, Nayarit, to Mazatlán, Sinaloa. The NHC said that Willa is expected to weaken rapidly after landfall tonight.
Authorities have declared extraordinary emergency situations in 19 municipalities in Nayarit and Sinaloa while President Peña Nieto has ordered the installation of the National Emergency Committee to coordinate the preparation and response to the powerful storm.
The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) said that it has already deployed a contingency plan in Coahuila, Durango, Sinaloa, Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco.
The state governments of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco ordered schools in coastal regions to close yesterday and have set up shelters to receive people who have evacuated their homes.
In Mazatlán, thousands of people have evacuated already and buildings were boarded up yesterday as residents prepare for the expected onslaught.
The mayor of Escuinapa, a municipality about 90 kilometers south of Mazatlán directly in the hurricane’s path, said that authorities intended to evacuate at least 10,000 people.
The ports of Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and San Blas, among others, have all been closed.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 people in the northern Nayarit municipalities of Acaponeta and Tecuala are expected to evacuate their homes.
“Let’s not play the macho,” said Nayarit Governor Antonio Echevarría.
“Let’s not act like superheroes. It’s a very strong hurricane, very powerful, and we don’t want any tragedies.”
Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened into a remnant low this morning while moving over Michoacán.
However, it continues to bring heavy rain to southern states including Oaxaca where flash flooding and mudslides have claimed the lives of 12 people, including at least two children, in recent days.