Hurricane Otis “rapidly intensified” into a dangerous Category 5 storm as it churned toward Mexico’s southern Pacific coast early Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, warning that the area around Acapulco could see “catastrophic damage.”
In just a matter of hours, Otis strengthened from a tropical storm into a major hurricane. Early Wednesday morning Otis was only 15 miles southeast of Acapulco, moving north-northwest at 10 mph, according to the hurricane center’s 1 a.m. Eastern advisory. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, with hurricane-force winds extending up to 30 miles from its center.
The storm was expected to make landfall by around 2 a.m. Eastern Wednesday, with “catastrophic damage likely where the core of the hurricane moves onshore,” the hurricane center said.
It was 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 gusts posing a risk to the upper floors of high-rise buildings.
A storm iswhen it reaches Category 3 or above 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 was 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, according to The Associated Press.
Authorities closed Acapulco’s port, home to some 300 fishing boats. The beach city, which has a population of about one million, is a major tourist destination.
Danielle Banks, meteorologist for The Weather Channel, said Otis was expected to weaken after making landfall, and the hurricane center said Otis would “likely dissipate over southern Mexico” by Wednesday night.
Thanks for reading CBS NEWS.
Create your free account or log in
for more features.