World News

Hurricane Bears Down on Mexico, Causing Thousands to Evacuate

Posted October 23, 2018 9:14 p.m. EDT

MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials evacuated thousands of people Tuesday as Hurricane Willa bore down on two west-central states with winds reaching 120 mph.

The hurricane weakened to category 3 before making landfall Tuesday night in Sinaloa state, approximately 60 miles south of Mazatlán, a resort city of nearly 500,000. The hurricane was expected to hit the state of Nayarit, along the west-central coast of Mexico, and produce a storm surge, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Federal authorities in Mexico issued an “extraordinary emergency” decree for at least 19 municipalities along the Pacific Coast. Forecasters said they expected a “life-threatening storm” that had the potential to cause flash flooding, landslides and rainfall of up to 18 inches.

Antonio Echeverría, the governor of Nayarit state, said 12,000 people had been evacuated in his state alone. Local officials said many more could be evacuated in the end, local news media reported.

Before reaching the coast, the storm hit Islas Marías, a group of offshore islands holding a penal colony and a nature reserve. There were no immediate reports of deaths or damage.

Up and down the coast, residents placed wood panels over their windows or stretched tape over the glass.

In Puerto Vallarta, in the coastal state of Jalisco to the south, high waves crashed onto the city’s landmark boulevard, which was closed as Hurricane Willa neared. In Nayarit state, hotels were turned into shelters, with food and blankets provided to evacuated residents.

At the beachfront Hotel Playa Mazatlán, guests were asked to wait out the storm in the hotel’s theater. “The sea is choppy,” Ramón Lizárraga, a receptionist, said in mid-evening. “The wind hasn’t started yet, it’s raining normally.”

Twelve people died this week in flooding and landslides caused by Tropical Storm Vicente in the impoverished southwestern state of Oaxaca.