Storm explodes into category four hurricane off Mexico

Storm explodes into category four hurricane off Mexico

Storm explodes into category four hurricane off Mexico

Hurricane Willa, an "extremely dangerous" storm heading to Mexico's Pacific coast, was upgraded to Category 4 by the National Hurricane Center late Sunday.

By early Monday, Willa had maximum sustained winds of 249 km/h and was centred about 370 kilometres south of Las Islas Marias and 280 kilometres south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes.

Hurricane Willa strengthened to become a rare Category 5 hurricane and is still forecast to slam into west-central Mexico.

Farther to the south, another storm, Tropical Storm Vicente, weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Vicente, with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (72 kph), was churning some 365 miles (590 km) southeast of Manzanillo.

"Rapid weakening is expected after landfall Tuesday night and Wednesday", according to the agency.

The NHC said that the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter Aircraft that was en route to Willa experienced a safety issue before entering the storm and had to return to base.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion", the center warned residents living on Mexico's coast between San Blas and Mazatlan.

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The National Hurricane Center predicts a life-threatening storm surge will hit Tuesday "along the coasts of the Isla Marias, and west-central and southwestern Mexico" near the storm's path.

The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close on Monday and began preparing emergency shelters ahead of the onslaught.

A satellite image taken by NOAA of Hurricane Willa shows the storm off Mexico on October 22.

On its way toward landfall, Willa is moving slowly to the north at 7 miles per hour.

The popular tourist town is lined with hotels and celebrated for its 12-mile golden beaches, golf resorts and lively nightlife.

Willa has maximum sustained winds of almost 260km/h with higher gusts, and is expected to hit the western coast of Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center said.

A hurricane warning is in effect for 180 miles of Mexican Pacific coast between San Blas and Mazatlan.

More than 300 mm of rain is expected to batter Western Jalisco, Western Nayarit and Southern Sinaloa in Mexico triggering floods and landslides.

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