Willa dumping "torrential rains" on parts of Mexico after becoming tropical storm

Willa dumping

Mexico braced Tuesday for the impact of Hurricane Willa as the Category 3 storm barreled toward its Pacific Coast with what forecasters warned would be potentially deadly force.

Civil defense director Luis Felipe Puente said at a televised news conference that 58 shelters had been set up for evacuees, although a lot of them took refuge with friends and relatives.

"At this time, it looks like this storm will bring a general 1-2 inches of rain and a period of 40- to 50-mph wind gusts to the coast, and there will be some sort of wet snow over the interior", AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said. It's heading to the north-northeast at 10 miles per hour (17kph), barreling toward a stretch of land south of the beach resort city.

The hurricane center said Willa was expected to rapidly weaken overnight.

MAZATLAN, Mexico-The center of Hurricane Willa moved over Mexico's Pacific coastline on the evening of October 23 with winds of more than 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour), buffeting buildings and dumping rain on tourist resorts where thousands of people had moved to safety.

The sun peeks out from under the clouds as it sets, after Hurricane Willa made landfall in Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or missing people, but the storm's 120 miles per hour (195 kph) winds damaged a hospital, knocked out power, toppled wood-shack homes and ripped metal roofing off other houses in the Sinaloa state municipality of Escuinapa when it came ashore Tuesday evening.

Mexican emergency officials say they evacuated more than 4,250 people in towns along the Pacific coast before the storm arrived.

The US National Hurricane Centre said that the eye of the risky Category three storm was about to make landfall, and little variation in strength was expected beforehand.

Farther south, Mexican officials reported late Monday that there have been 12 deaths related to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Vicente.

The storm's core was hitting a stretch of coast about 80km south of Mazatlan, a resort city that is home to high-rise hotels and about 500,000 people, including many United States and Canadian expatriates.

Up to 18 inches (45 cm) of rainfall could pummel parts of the storm zone, the Miami-based hurricane center said. A decree of "extraordinary emergency" was issued for 19 municipalities in Nayarit and Sinaloa states, the federal Interior Department announced.

Torrential rains began in the afternoon, and emergency officials said they had evacuated more than 4,250 people in coastal towns and set up 58 shelters ahead of the unsafe storm.

Forecast to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to enter Mexico from the Pacific in recent years, Willa was due to weaken fast as it moved inland. "Everything is closed", Hernandez said. American Airlines has canceled its flights in Mazatlán, about 275 miles to the north.