Willa weakened to a tropical depression early Wednesday as it ran into mountains, and is expected to be a rainmaker by the time it crosses the US-Mexico border.
Winds were at 35 mph and the storm was moving toward the northeast through central Mexico. The storm will continue to weaken as it hits the Sierra Madre mountain range and pumps moisture into northern Mexico and Texas.
Willa was expected to bring life-threatening storm surges, rain and wind to residents on Mexico’s Pacific shore, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Once a Category 5 hurricane, Willa had weakened before landfall to a Category 3 storm, but still had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kilometers per hour).
Forming Saturday, Willa went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in two days in what the hurricane center called”explosive” strengthening.In one 24-hour period, its winds spiked by 80 mph.
Forecasters were concerned about storm surge and rainfall.
“Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the hurricane center said. “Rainfall will cause life-threatening flash flooding and landslides.”
Rainfall totals were expected to reach 18 inches in portions of the Mexican states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa.
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SOURCE: CNN, Matt Rehbein, Brandon Miller and Steve Almasy