Hurricane Otis winds blast through Acapulco hospital after storm makes landfall in Mexico
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Hurricane Otis slammed into Mexico Wednesday morning as the strongest storm to land on the country’s west coast, leaving destruction and power outages in its wake.
Otis went from a Category 1 to a Category 5 storm in only 12 hours — the fastest rate ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The eye of the storm made landfall close to the resort town of Acapulco with winds of 165mph. Forecasters described it as “a nightmare scenario” for southern Mexico.
Videos from the scene showed palm trees stripped bare of their leaves and badly damaged buildings including a hospital and shopping centre.
Residents were left without power or access to roads that lead outside the city due to landslides caused by the torrential rain.
The storm had lost strength by Wednesday afternoon and was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved past the Guerrero state. But soon after a 4.4-magnitude earthquake shook a resort town just 120 miles north of Acapulco.
After Hurricane Otis landslides threaten residents
Residents of Acapulco were unable to leave the town on Wednesday after rains brought by Hurricane Otis caused landslides on the highway.
The Secretary of Infrastructure for the Mexican state of Guerrero said on Twitter that a section of the Acapulco Highway, Chilpancingo faced “total closure” due to the landslides.
There are no alternative routes to leave the area, meaning residents will have to remain at their homes until the landslides are cleared.
They urged people to take precautionary measures.
In Oceania: A powerful cyclone made landfall in Vanuatu
A tropical cyclone that picked up strength made landfall on the island nation of Vanuatu on Tuesday.
The cyclone, named Lola, had the power equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane when it hit the country. The Vanuatu Meteorology Department said the cyclone’s wind speeds were over 100 mph with gusts over 115 mph.
Vanuatu Red Cross spokesperson Shirley Johnson told AccuWeather they were “expecting to have major, major damage.”
“I am afraid we won’t have enough relief in time to save the people,” Ms Johnson said.
Half a million Guerrero residents without power
After Hurricane Otis pummeled parts of Mexico on Wednesday, over a third of electric customers in Guerrero were left without power.
Comisión Federal de Electricidad, the state-owned Mexican electrical provider company, said more than 504,000 residents woke up without power but they managed to restore 40 per cent of its customers.
A team of 846 electrical workers, 96 cranes, 347 vehicles, 26 emergency plants and 1 helicopter assisted in the company’s quick response to the power outages.
Where will Hurricane Otis hit next?
Hurricane Otis made landfall close to Acapulco, Mexico in the early hours of Wednesday after rapidly intensifying from a Category 1 to Category 5 storm in just 12 hours.
The hurricane had weakened to a Cat-2 and was moving inland by Wednesday afternoon. The storm is now around 100 miles northwest of Acapulco.
It is expected to lose even more power as it hits Guerrero state’s steep mountains, before dissipating on Wednesday night.
The Mexican government discontinued a hurricane warning for Acapulco but issued a tropical storm warning for Punta Maldonado, around 100 miles to the south.
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Hurricane Otis made landfall near the coastal city of Acapulco, Mexico
Watch: Hurricane Otis makes landfall as 165mph winds hit Mexico
Hurricane Otis makes landfall as 165mph winds hit Mexico
No immediate reports of fatalities from Hurricane Otis
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said there were no immediate reports of fatalities from Hurricane Otis, but cautioned that authorities were struggling to get updates.
“The hurricane is still affecting the area and communications are completely down,” he told reporters at a regular government press conference.
In pictures: Destruction caused by Hurricane Otis
Winds of up to 165mph are battering the Mexican city of Acapulco
Winds of 165mph destroyed the Galerias shopping center in Acapulco
Authorities warned of ‘catastrophic damage’ cased by Hurricane Otis
More than 500,00 people left without electricity as Hurricane Otis rips through Acapulco
Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad said that half a million customers had lost power during Hurricane Otis but that Wednesday morning, around 200,000 were reconnected.
The company said that they would begin work restoring those who were still cut off once the weather conditions improved.
Why did Hurricane Otis grow so quickly?
Hurricane Otis is tracking north through the country and is expected to dump five to 10 inches (13-25cm) of rain on Guerrero state with as much as 15 inches (38cm) possible in some areas. That raised the possibility of mudslides and flashfloods in Guerrero’s steep mountainous terrain.
The National Hurricane Center considers a storm to rapidly intensify if it increases wind speed by 35mph (46kph) in 24 hours.
While it is still too early to say what impact the climate crisis had on this individual weather event, record-breaking ocean temperatures are fuelling stronger and more destructive cyclones in general.
Otis went from a Category 1 to Category 5 hurricane in only 12 hours