Mexico feels impact as Hurricane Willa roars toward Pacific coast

Latin America

A surfer rides a wave in Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, before the arrival of Hurricane Willa. Willa is headed toward a Tuesday afternoon collision with a stretch of Mexico’s Pacific coast, its strong winds and high waves threatening high-rise resorts, surfing beaches and fishing villages. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Hurricane Willa is expected to hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast Tuesday evening. A mountain range close to the beaches known as the ‘Mexican Riviera’ greatly heightens the risk of flash floods and landslides. Local residents have been evacuated.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock spoke with local residents as they prepared for the storm.

Hurricane Willa, described as “extremely dangerous” by the U.S. National Hurricane Center, is scheduled to make landfall Tuesday night.

Ahead of the storm, residents prepared for the worst by protecting what they could before fleeing inland to higher ground.

But, not everyone is fleeing. For some, the hurricane is a lesser concern.

“I’m not going to evacuate because many people around this area, when they see that things are left alone, they come and steal them,” local restaurant owner Ruben Mariscal said. “If I see that things become really bad, I have my motorbike here to escape.”

Meteorologists warn the hurricane – a Category Three – could be the worst to hit Mexico’s west coast in years.

Hurricane Willa’s ferocity surged from a tropical storm on Saturday morning, but then swelled to the maximum Category Five on Monday before weakening to Category Three on Tuesday morning. As it makes landfall here it will bring 200-kilometer winds and more than 45 centimeters of rain in some places – posing a serious landslide threat.

The storm’s eye, its center, is expected to pass over the coastal town of Teacapan in the state of Sinaloa, wreaking destruction as it goes. Further south, Tropical Storm Vicente has already left at least 12 people dead in the state of Oaxaca, as landslides struck the coast.

The Pacific Coast communities are prepared, but many residents expect to return to a very different scene.