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10,000+ Flee as 'Life-Threatening' Hurricane Willa Menaces Mexico

Climate
On Monday, Hurricane Willa was is in the eastern Pacific, on a path towards Mexico's Pacific coast. NOAA

Thousands were evacuated from Mexico's Pacific coast Monday as Hurricane Willa is expected to make landfall as a "life-threatening" Category Four storm Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reported.


As of late Monday night, the storm was 80 miles west of Las Islas Marias islands opposite the state of Nayarit. It is expected to be one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike Mexico from the Pacific, CNN reported.

"Let's not play the macho. Let's not act like superheroes," Nayarit Gov. Antonio Echevarria said, according to Reuters. "It's a very strong hurricane, very potent, and we don't want any tragedies." Nayarit said he had closed schools and evacuated more than 10,000 people.

The storm is currently blowing at 130 miles per hour and expected to bring an "extremely dangerous" storm surge to southwestern Mexico and rainfall of six to 12 inches, with some local areas receiving as much as 18. The rain could produce "life-threatening" flooding and landslides, The National Hurricane Center said in its most recent forecast.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Las Islas Marias and along the Pacific coast from San Blas in the south to Mazitlan in the north, around where it is first expected to hit.

"People are really scared," Mazitlan gas station attendant Zulema Pardo told Reuters, as customers stocked up on water and gasoline and emptied the shelves of bread. "People are crazy and worked up."

Hurricane Willa is another example of a storm, like Hurricane Michael, that intensified rapidly due to warmer-than average ocean temperatures, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change.

Willa formed Saturday as a tropical storm and grew into a Category Five storm Monday before weakening into a Category Four, CNN reported. The waters off of Mexico are one to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average for late October.

Willa is also notable for its raw strength. It will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Mexico's Pacific coast and comes three years after the strongest, Category Five Hurricane Patricia, made landfall in Jalisco.

Along with Tropical Storm Vincente, a weaker system moving south of Willa that is expected to make landfall as a tropical depression, also on Tuesday, it will make this hurricane season the most active ever for the northeast Pacific in terms of "Accumulated Cyclone Energy," a metric that accounts for both the number of storms and their intensity.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has asked the National System of Civil Protection to take all necessary measures to protect those in the path of both storms.

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