Forecasters say Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into an "extremely dangerous" near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path that could smash into Mexico's western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the coming days.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Monday that Willa could "produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday." It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday morning, generating life-threatening surf and rip conditions.
Hurricane Willa is expected to hit southwestern Mexico with heavy winds and rain beginning on Tuesday. (U.S. National Hurricane Center)
A hurricane warning was posted for Mexico's western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan. Tropical storm warnings were raised from Playa Perula to San Blas and north of Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya. The centre said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Willa had maximum sustained winds of 249 km/h early Monday and was centred about 315 kilometres south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes. It was moving to the north at eight km/h.
46 cm of rain possible
Hurricane force winds extended out 40 kilometres from the storm's core and tropical storm force winds were up to 145 kilometres out.
The hurricane centre said 15 to 30.5 centimetres of rain should fall — and some places could see up to 46 centimetres — on parts of Mexico's western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states, raising the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.
Farther to the south, tropical storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.
Forecasters said it was expected to weaken into a tropical depression Monday night or early Tuesday while moving nearer to Mexico's southern Pacific shore.
Its core was about 355 kilometres southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 65 km/h late Sunday. The hurricane centre said it could produce 7.5 to 15 centimetres of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.