Hurricane Willa strengthened to a “potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane” this morning but later weakened to a category 4 as it continued its path towards the coast of western Mexico.
However, the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Willa was still a “dangerous major hurricane” and was expected to make landfall in the hurricane warning area between San Blas, Nayarit, and Mazatlán, Sinaloa, tomorrow afternoon or evening.
Willa is “expected to produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of west-central and southwestern Mexico,” the NHC said.
“Willa is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico,” the NHC said, adding “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
The National Meteorological Service (SMN) is forecasting waves from three to five meters on the coasts of Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa and two to three meters in Guerrero and Oaxaca.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from Playa Perula, Jalisco, to San Blas and Mazatlán to Bahía Tempehuaya, Sinaloa. The tropical storm conditions are expected in the next 12 to 24 hours, the NHC said.
Willa was located 215 kilometers southwest of Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, at 9:00am MDT and moving north at 11 kilometers per hour. Winds were 260 kilometers per hour.
The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit ordered schools in coastal regions to close today and are preparing emergency shelters ahead of the hurricane’s arrival.
Another weather event, Tropical Storm Vicente, was located 590 kilometers southeast of Manzanillo, Colima, this morning.
The NHC said that Vicente was “looking less organized” but is “still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over portions of southern and southwestern Mexico.”
Meanwhile, flooding in Veracruz has claimed the life of one man while two others are missing.
A man died in the municipality of Uxpanapa, after being swept away by floodwaters while trying to cross a road on his motorcycle.
In San Andrés Tuxtla, a man disappeared as he tried to cross a swollen creek on horseback. The drowned horse later appeared but there was no sign of the man.
Another man vanished after falling into the Tecolapan River in the municipality of Catemaco.
The state government has requested that a state of emergency be declared in more than 30 municipalities due to the flooding.
“We first requested emergency declarations in 10 municipalities, then in 13, then in eight,” Veracruz Governor Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares said.
“Practically all of them have been authorized and aid has started to flow,” he added.
One of the worst affected areas is the municipality of Temapache, where more than 30 neighborhoods are under water in the city of Álamo.
Around 36,000 people have been affected by flooding in the municipality, according to local Civil Protection services, and the army was deployed to help residents evacuate their homes.
The SMN is also forecasting powerful storms today in the states of Veracruz, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tamaulipas and Puebla.
UPDATE: The information regarding Hurricane Willa was updated at 7:17pm CDT.