Hurricane Willa swirls in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico early Tuesday. Image courtesy NOAA
24 October, 2018, 20:12
Several other tourist getaways in the state of Nayarit as well as the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco state lie in Willa's path, which is forecast to bring a life-threatening storm surge of ocean water, wind and rainfall.
There were no immediate reports of deaths, but the storm's 120 miles per hour (195 kph) winds knocked out power and damaged buildings in the Sinaloa state municipality of Escuinapa, and local news media published images of a damaged hospital.
Hurricane Willa has made landfall near Isla Del Bosque, Sinaloa, on the western coast of Mexico, approximately 50 miles south of Mazatlán.
The storm's core was hitting a stretch of coast about 80km south of Mazatlan, a resort city that is home to high-rise hotels and about 500,000 people, including many USA and Canadian expatriates.
Willa weakened to a tropical storm early Wednesday as it ran into mountains, and is expected to be a rainmaker by the time it crosses the US-Mexico border.
MAZATLAN, Mexico-The center of Hurricane Willa moved over Mexico's Pacific coastline on the evening of October 23 with winds of more than 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour), buffeting buildings and dumping rain on tourist resorts where thousands of people had moved to safety.
"Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.", the hurricane center said.
No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.
Alberto Hernandez, a hotel worker in the town of Teacapan, close to where the storm made landfall, expressed confidence before it hit that the building would hold up. He and his son, who also works at the hotel, stayed on the job, though the rest of his family had left the area.
"We've had rain all day. Everything is closed", Hernandez said.
Up to 45 centimetres of rain are forecast, along with power outages and destruction. Schools were ordered closed.
Emergency officials said they evacuated more than 4,250 people in coastal towns and set up 58 shelters ahead of the risky Category 3 storm, which was expected to blow ashore in the evening near Mazatlan, a tourist spot of high-rise hotels and about 500,000 people, many of them USA and Canadian expatriates.
As Willa neared, the beach in Mazatlan nearly disappeared, with waves slamming against the coastal boulevard under looming black clouds.
A powerful winter-like storm will batter the area this weekend with soaking rain, gusty winds and snow in some spots, particularly farther north. A few surfers took advantage of the high waves even as workers boarded up windows on hotels, shops and homes.
Some families took shelter at the Mazatlan convention center, spreading out blankets along the walls to wait out the storm.
Farther to the south, the remnants of Tropical Storm Vicente continued to bring heavy rain that caused deadly flooding and mudslides.