“Nightmare scenario“: Hurricane Otis hits Acapulco, Mexico, with winds of 265 km/h

Hurricane Otis hit Mexico, near Acapulco, in the early hours of Wednesday (25). Category 5, the system was life-threatening and provided what meteorologists warned could be a “nightmare scenario” for the country’s south coast, threatening to cause catastrophes with destructive winds, heavy rain and storms.

The center of Otis made landfall in Mexico around 12:25 a.m. local time with winds of 165 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Within hours, winds decreased to 130 mph, the center said, with dangerous hurricane-force winds extending up to 30 miles from downtown Otis.

At 3 a.m., the hurricane was already about 25 miles north-northwest of Acapulco, according to the center.

The storm is expected to weaken quickly as it moves inland and over the higher terrain of southern Mexico, where it is expected to dissipate by Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday (24), Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador implored residents of the coast of the state of Guerrero, which includes the city of Acapulco, to seek shelter and stay away from rivers, streams and ravines before arriving of the storm.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Punta Maldonado, west of Zihuatanejo.

“This is an extremely serious situation for the Acapulco metropolitan area, with the core of the destructive hurricane likely to come near or over that large city Wednesday morning,” the hurricane center said Tuesday night. “There is no record of hurricanes even close to this intensity in this part of Mexico.”

Acapulco is home to around 800,000 people.

Winds near Otis’ core are “extremely destructive,” the hurricane center warned Wednesday. The upper floors of tall buildings are at greater risk from strong winds than those closer to ground level, the center said.

The hurricane is expected to create storm surge that will likely trigger “large, destructive waves” and potentially fatal flooding around the area where it made landfall.

Additionally, up to 200mm of rain is expected by the end of the week, with some areas recording up to 500mm of precipitation. Heavy rains could cause flash and urban flooding, as well as mudslides in areas of higher ground, the hurricane center warned.

Otis quickly intensified throughout Tuesday, gaining 80 mph in a 12-hour period. It is the fastest-intensifying hurricane in the history of the Eastern Pacific, according to Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist in the atmospheric sciences department at Colorado State University.

For context, the rapid intensification of hurricanes means that the storm’s maximum sustained winds have increased by at least 35 mph in 24 hours or less.

Before Otis, there was no record of a Category 5 hurricane in the East Pacific, according to NOAA’s hurricane database. The strongest was Hurricane Patricia in 2015, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph.

Unlike Otis, which made landfall near a large urban area, Patricia crossed a mountainous, sparsely populated stretch of coast, sparing Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.

And although Patricia made landfall as a Category 4 storm, it quickly degenerated and left a narrow wake of severe damage, according to the National Hurricane Center. Two deaths were reported as a direct result of the storm, the center said.

See also: Brazilians report drama with the arrival of hurricane Idalia

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With information from Taylor Ward and Karol Suarez

The post first appeared on www.cnnbrasil.com.br

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