Dan­ger­ous Hur­ri­cane Willa closes in on Mex­ico coast

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page -

AU­THOR­I­TIES rushed to evac­u­ate low-ly­ing ar­eas and set up shel­ters as an “ex­tremely dan­ger­ous” Hur­ri­cane Willa with winds of 145 mph (230 kph) headed to­ward a Tues­day af­ter­noon land­fall along a stretch of Mex­ico’s Pa­cific coast dot­ted with high-rise re­sorts, surf­ing beaches and fish­ing vil­lages.

Far­ther south, mean­while, Mex­i­can of­fi­cials re­ported late Mon­day that there had been 12 deaths re­lated to heavy rains from Trop­i­cal Storm Vi­cente.

Willa briefly reached Cat­e­gory 5 strength, then weak­ened a bit to Cat­e­gory 4. But the U.S. Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter warned that it still was likely to bring “life-threat­en­ing storm surge, wind and rain­fall” to parts of west-cen­tral and south­west­ern Mex­ico.

Work­ers taped up win­dows in ho­tels and of­fi­cials or­dered schools closed in a low-ly­ing re­gion where towns sit amid farm­land tucked be­tween the sea and la­goons. A decree of “ex­tra­or­di­nary emer­gency” was is­sued for 19 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Na­yarit and Si­naloa states, the fed­eral In­te­rior Depart­ment an­nounced.

Of­fi­cials said 7,000 to 8,000 peo­ple were be­ing evac­u­ated from low-ly­ing ar­eas, mostly in Si­naloa state.

The hur­ri­cane was ex­pected to first pass over or near the Is­las Marias, a group of is­lands about 60 miles (96 kilo­me­ters) off­shore that in­clude a na­ture pre­serve and a fed­eral prison. Fore­cast­ers said Willa would then blow ashore in late af­ter­noon some­where along a 140-mile (220-kilo­me­ter) stretch from the re­sort city of Mazat­lan to San Blas.

En­rique Moreno, mayor of Es­cuinapa, a mu­nic­i­pal­ity of about 60,000 peo­ple ly­ing on Willa’s po­ten­tial track, said of­fi­cials were try­ing to evac­u­ate ev­ery­body in the sea­side vil­lage of Tea­ca­pan. He es­ti­mated 3,000 were af­fected but he ex­pected some would try to stay.

“The peo­ple don’t want to evac­u­ate, but it’s for their se­cu­rity,” he said.

About 60 miles (100 kilo­me­ters) up the coast in Mazat­lan, with a met­ro­pol­i­tan-area pop­u­la­tion of about 500,000, Mayor Jose Joel Boucieguez said of­fi­cials pre­pared shel­ters and were closely mon­i­tor­ing low-ly­ing ar­eas. Mazat­lan is a popular va­ca­tion spot and home to a large num­ber of Amer­i­can and Cana­dian ex­pa­tri­ates.

Late Mon­day, Willa was cen­tered about 85 miles (140 kilo­me­ters) south­west of the Is­las Marias and 195 miles (310 kilo­me­ters) south-south­west of Mazat­lan. It was mov­ing north at 9 mph (15 kph), but was fore­cast to make a turn to the north­east dur­ing the night.

Hur­ri­cane-force winds ex­tended 35 miles (55 kilo­me­ters) from the storm’s core, and trop­i­cal storm-force winds were up to 125 miles (205 kilo­me­ters) out.

The US hur­ri­cane cen­ter warned that Willa could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cen­time­ters) of rain — with up to 18 inches (45 cen­time­ters) in some places — to parts of Jalisco, Na­yarit and Si­naloa states, with flash flood­ing and land­slides pos­si­ble in moun­tain­ous ar­eas. – AP

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