Hurricane Willa has intensified into a Category 5 in the eastern Pacific Ocean and will threaten Mexico with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge and flooding rainfall as it makes landfall on Tuesday.
A hurricane warning has been posted from San Blas to Mazatlán, including Las Islas Marias. A tropical storm warning is now in effect from Playa Perula to San Blas and from north of Mazatlán to Bahia Tempehuaya.
Willa is tracking northward and will turn to the northeast by Tuesday. It should approach landfall along the southwestern coast of mainland Mexico on Tuesday, which is expected to occur anywhere from near Mazatlán to the north of Puerto Vallarta.
Tropical storm conditions (39- to 73-mph winds) could arrive as early as Tuesday morning in the hurricane warning area. By Tuesday afternoon, hurricane conditions (74-plus-mph winds) will develop along that same stretch of the coastline.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to develop within the tropical storm warning areas by Monday night or early Tuesday.
Increasing wind shear will lead to some slight weakening as Willa approaches landfall, but it should still be a strong and dangerous hurricane as it moves inland Tuesday.
Where the core of Willa’s most intense winds roars ashore, there will likely be tree damage, power outages and structural damage.
Rough surf is beginning to arrive on the southwestern and west-central Mexico coastline, contributing to a high risk of rip currents, the NHC said.
Those in low-lying areas near the coast where Willa is forecast to push inland should seek higher ground due to the threat of dangerous storm surge flooding. Follow the advice of local officials for any evacuations. The worst storm surge inundation will occur near and just south of where Willa’s center crosses the coast.
Locally, up to 18 inches of rain is possible in western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa in Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Up to 6 inches of rain is possible farther inland across Zacateca, Durango, southeast Chihuahua and Coahuila.
Dangerous flash flooding and landslides could occur because of the heavy rain in those areas.
After dissipating over Mexico’s mountainous terrain, the remnant upper-level energy and moisture from Willa could eventually enhance rainfall in Texas and perhaps the northern Gulf Coast Wednesday into Thursday.