Hurricane Otis has “rapidly intensified” into a dangerous Category 5 storm off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, the National Hurricane Center reported Tuesday night.
In just a matter of hours, Otis strengthened from a tropical storm to a major hurricane. As of late Tuesday night, it was only 55 miles southeast of Acapulco, moving northwest at 9 mph, according to the hurricane center. It had maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, and its hurricane-force winds were extending up to 30 miles from its center.
The storm is likely to make landfall by early Wednesday, with “catastrophic damage likely where the core of the hurricane moves onshore,” the hurricane center said.
It is forecast to bring anywhere from 8 to 20 inches of rain through Thursday across the Mexican states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, and may also cause “life-threatening coastal flooding.”
The hurricane center warned of “extremely destructive winds near the core” of Otis, with powerful winds posing risks to the upper floors of high-rise buildings.
A storm iswhen it reaches Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale due to the potential for “significant loss of life and damage,” per the hurricane center.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Punta Maldonado west to Zihuatanejo.
Mexico’s army and navy deployed more than 8,000 troops to Guerrero with specialized equipment to aid in rescues, the Associated Press reported. Authorities closed Acapulco’s port, home to some 300 fishing boats.
The beach city of Acapulco, which has a population of about one million, is a major tourist destination.
Danielle Banks, meteorologist for The Weather Channel, said Otis is expected to weaken after it makes landfall.
The hurricane center said Otis will “likely dissipate over southern Mexico” by Wednesday night.