Hurricane Willa is hurtling towards the west coast of Mexico as a category 4 storm and is expected to make a landfall on Tuesday, October 23. The hurricane was a tropical storm a few days ago, but intensified to a category 5 hurricane over the weekend.
The storm was later downgraded to a category 4 storm, but the National Hurricane Centre, in its bulletin, said that Willa was still life-threatening and would bring strong winds, heavy rains and a storm surge, causing landslides and flash floods.
Willa is expected to bring about 18 inches of rain in several parts of south-west Mexico, and already carries winds of about 250 kilometres per hour, reported the BBC.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the National Hurricane Center said, adding that the way it intensified was unusual.
In tune, Mexico has issued an alert for several parts of the country and several areas have been evacuated. Hotels, schools and homes in low-lying regions have been shut down, and people have been moved to safer locations, before Willa makes a landfall. Emergency officials and volunteers are said to be racing against time to prepare shelters and arrange for necessary supplies.
Even though the storm is slowly said to be losing strength, it is unlikely to weaken much before landfall. "Unfortunately landfall is tomorrow, so it doesn't have a ton of time to weaken," Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, told the Verge. "It definitely looks like a pretty serious threat."
After Mexico, Willa is also expected to bring some rainfall to the central and southern Texas midweek.
Meanwhile, Willa is likely to be the strongest hurricane to ever make a landfall the Pacific coast of Mexico. The last time the region grappled with a situation like this was Hurricane Patricia in 2015. Like Willa, Patricia too was a category 5 storm, but was downgraded to category 4 on landfall.
However, at its peak, Patricia carried a windspeed of about 346 kilometres per hour, the strongest storm ever observed on Earth. The damage caused by Patricia was estimated at about $460 million.