Hurricane Willa expected to devastate Mexico's Pacific coast

Hurricane Willa as seen from NOAA's GOES East satellite on Sunday Oct. 21 2018.                        NOAA

Hurricane Willa as seen from NOAA's GOES East satellite on Sunday Oct. 21 2018. NOAA

But it remained "extremely dangerous" and was forecast to bring "life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall" to parts of west-central and southwestern Mexico ahead of an expected Tuesday landfall, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving to the north-northwest at 6 miles per hour (9 kph), but a turn toward the north was likely during the night or Monday.

Calgarians on holiday in Mexico are hunkering down as Hurricane Willa - an "extremely dangerous" near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific - is on a path to blast into the western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta by Tuesday.

Willa is moving northward and is forecast to gradually lose power during the next day or so and weaken rapidly after hitting the coast, the Miami-based hurricane center added.

Farther to the south, a weakening Tropical Storm Vicente was expected to dissipate soon, but it still caused heavy rainfall that caused unsafe flooding in southern and southwestern Mexico.

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Mexico's Pacific coast is set to be pounded on Tuesday by two storms headed its way, both of them having distinct characteristics. Willa is now heading just east of north at five knots but is expected to turn track more northeastward and accelerate into the west-central Mainland Mexico coast later today or this evening.

Hurricane Willa roared into a cluster of Mexican islands holding a prison colony and headed for a Tuesday afternoon collision with a stretch of the country's Pacific coast, its 120 miles per hour (195 kph) winds and high waves threatening high-rise resorts, surfing beaches and fishing villages.

Forecasters warned the "potentially catastrophic" hurricane could make landfall as soon as Tuesday afternoon or evening, blasting the coast with up to 18 inches of rainfall.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.

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Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Vicente, with maximum sustained winds of 72km/h, is churning some 590km southeast of Manzanillo. Vicente likely will be a tropical depression by the time it comes ashore, the hurricane center said. Flash-flooding and landslides should be expected.

Willa is another example of rapid intensification in a tropical cyclone.

There have been 10 major hurricane in 2018, including Willa, which ties 1992 as the most major hurricane seen in the northeast Pacific in one year. The ocean waters off Mexico's western coast are running 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average for late October.

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