(MEXICO CITY) — Hurricane Willa grew into a potentially catastrophic Category 5 storm and swept toward Mexico's Pacific coast with winds of 160 mph (260 kph) Monday, threatening a stretch of high-rise resort hotels, surfing beaches and fishing villages.
Mazatlan, with a metropolitan-area population of about 500,000, is a popular vacation spot. It is closer to the U.S. than most other Pacific resorts and home to a large number of American and Canadian expatriates.
The hurricane's projected track also included Esquinapa, a town a few miles inland with almost 60,000 people in and around it.
As of midday Monday, Willa was centered about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes and was moving at 7 mph (11 kph).
Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the storm's center, and tropical storm-force winds were up to 105 miles (1650 kilometers) out.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Willa could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain — with up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) in some places — to parts of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa states, with flash flooding and landslides possible in mountainous areas.
Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.