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article imageDeadly Category 5 Hurricane Willa takes aim at Mexico

By Karen Graham     Oct 22, 2018 in Science
Hurricane Willa strengthened into a powerful Category 5 storm Monday morning, taking aim at the Mexican coast and threatening to deliver life-threatening storm surge, wind, and rain.
With maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph (260 kph) with higher gusts. Willa is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Willa is "potentially catastrophic," forecasters have warned.
Willa is moving toward the north at 7.0 mph (11 kph) and is located about 155 miles (250 kilometers) south-southwest of the Las Islas Marias, Mexico. The hurricane is expected to pass over the Islas Marias - a set of islands that include a nature preserve and a federal prison - early on Tuesday morning.
Coastline of María Magdalena Island  Marías Islands  off the coast of west-central Mexico.
Coastline of María Magdalena Island, Marías Islands, off the coast of west-central Mexico.
José Coronel Martínez
Willa is then expected to make landfall along the southwestern coast of mainland Mexico in the hurricane warning area Tuesday afternoon or evening, bringing with it a life-threatening storm surge -- especially near and to the south of where the center of Willa makes landfall.
"Slight weakening is forecast to begin on Tuesday, but Willa is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico," the National Hurricane Center said.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 kilometers). The estimated minimum central pressure is 925 mb (27.32 inches).
Latest GOES East satellite imagery on Hurricane 5
Latest GOES East satellite imagery on Hurricane 5
The resort area of Puerto Vallarta is under a tropical storm warning -- as it is expected to face gusty winds, heavy rain, and some flooding -- but not under a hurricane warning, because the worst part of the storm is forecast to miss the popular vacation spot, reports ABC News.
Willa should stay in an underpopulated region of Southwest Mexico, staying well north of Puerto Vallarta, and is expected to weaken on reaching the Sierra Madre mountains. But what's left of the storm could bring significant rainfall to Texas. Generally, Willa could bring rainfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches, with local amounts to 18 inches as it crosses Mexico and up to 4 inches of rainfall to Texas.
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