Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm, has made a devastating landfall near Acapulco, a popular resort city located on the southern Pacific Coast of Mexico. The fierce storm brought with it unprecedented winds and heavy rainfall that pose significant threats of catastrophic flooding and mudslides.
The National Hurricane Center reported that the storm’s maximum sustained winds reached speeds of up to 165 miles per hour, with even more potent gusts recorded. As it hit the shores, Hurricane Otis was recognized as the most potent storm ever to strike this region of Mexico.
The looming threat of Otis has overshadowed the upcoming peak winter season for the coastal region, which is dotted with fishing villages and beach resorts. Acapulco, known for its vibrant tourism, is home to over 850,000 residents. The National Hurricane Center underscored the gravity of the situation, emphasizing the imminent threat to the Acapulco metropolitan area, given the storm’s trajectory.
By Tuesday morning, a hurricane warning had already been issued for the Pacific Coast of Guerrero, spanning from the beach town of Punta Maldonado to the resort city of Zihuatanejo. Additionally, a hurricane watch was declared for a segment of Oaxaca’s western coast.
In a bid to prepare the citizens, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took to social media, urging Guerrero’s inhabitants to brace for the hurricane’s impact. He emphasized the importance of seeking shelter and advised residents to stay clear of rivers, streams, and ravines.
Forecasters anticipate that the regions under the hurricane warning will experience extremely destructive winds. They also predict a significant storm surge, which could lead to life-threatening coastal flooding, especially near and east of the storm’s epicenter upon landfall. Moreover, the heavy rainfall accompanying Otis poses risks of flash and urban flooding, with the mountainous terrains being susceptible to mudslides. Estimates suggest that Guerrero and Oaxaca’s western coastal areas could receive an average rainfall of eight to 16 inches, with some areas possibly witnessing a staggering 20 inches of rain.
The genesis of Hurricane Otis can be traced back to the Pacific Ocean, near the coast of Mexico. What started as a tropical depression evolved into a hurricane earlier this week, with the storm intensifying rapidly. It’s a rarity for storms to retain Category 5 strength during landfall, primarily because they tend to lose momentum over shallower waters. The Saffir-Simpson scale classifies tropical storms with wind speeds exceeding 157 m.p.h. as Category 5 hurricanes, marking them as the most potent and rarest class.
In the historical records, no hurricanes of this magnitude have been documented for this region of Mexico. A similar calamity unfolded in October 2015 when Hurricane Patricia, a Category 5 storm, battered Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The storm’s incredible winds and rainfall had taken meteorologists by surprise, leading to widespread evacuations and cancellations of flights and cruises. Fortunately, there were no immediate reports of casualties during that incident.
As Hurricane Otis continues its path, it serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable and potent forces of nature, underscoring the need for preparedness and timely action to safeguard lives and property.
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