Hurricane Willa slammed into the coast of southern Sinaloa last night, bringing heavy rain and strong winds that toppled trees and utility poles but no casualties have been reported.
The National Meteorological Service (SMN) said Willa made landfall at 7:38pm in the municipality of Escuinapa.
The category 3 hurricane brought winds of 195 kilometers per hour with gusts as strong as 240 kilometers per hour.
“It was really strong,” Cecilia Crespo, a police spokeswoman in Escuinapa, told the news agency Reuters. “It knocked down trees, lamps, poles, walls. There’s no electricity.”
Sinaloa Governor Quirino Ordaz said this morning that Willa caused a lot of material damage in Escuinapa and other coastal municipalities but there were no deaths.
“Communication to towns has been cut off because a lot of utility poles collapsed, trees fell, there is no electricity or drinking water . . . neighborhoods are flooded and it’s not easy to access them . . .” he said.
Waves of four to six meters were reported on the coasts of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco. Durango and Zacatecas also felt the effects of the powerful storm as it moved inland.
Before reaching the Mexican mainland, Willa passed over Las Islas Marias, where a federal penitentiary is located. Authorities said that the safety of prisoners was a priority but declined to comment on what precautions had been taken, citing security concerns.
Some roads and highways in Sinaloa, Nayarit and Durango were partially closed last night.
The ceiling of the laundry at the Escuinapa General Hospital collapsed and a strong odor of gas was reported, the newspaper El Universal reported.
National Civil Protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente confirmed that no deaths had been reported going into Wednesday, explaining that “the population took cover in time.”
More than 19,000 people were evacuated from coastal municipalities in Sinaloa and Nayarit, some of whom went to shelters set up by state and municipal authorities.
Willa weakened rapidly as it moved inland and was downgraded early this morning to a tropical depression.
The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that maximum sustained winds had decreased to about 35 kilometers per hour with higher gusts.
“Further weakening is forecast and Willa is expected to dissipate by early afternoon,” it added.
At 10:00am CDT, the remnants of Willa were located about 120 kilometers west of Monterrey, Nuevo León.
Despite Willa’s weakening, the SMN is forecasting it will cause intense storm activity in Durango today and very strong storms in Zacatecas.
The Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) said that in Sinaloa and Nayarit the biggest risk to the safety of the population was the potential of landslides in mountainous areas of the states.
The army is assisting federal, state and municipal authorities to assess damage and respond to the needs of affected citizens.