(NEW YORK) — At least 27 are dead and several others missing after Hurricane Otis came ashore with record ferocity on Mexico’s western shore early Wednesday, according to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s office.
Hurricane Otis is the strongest hurricane on record to hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast, making landfall as a Category 5 with winds up to 165 mph.
On Wednesday, Hurricane Otis strengthened to a Category 5 storm as it made landfall in Mexico, where it was expected to bring “catastrophic damage,” the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The hurricane, which had been a tropical storm as of Tuesday morning, rapidly intensified within 24 hours.
Prior to Otis, the strongest hurricane on record to hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast was Category 4 Hurricane Patricia in 2015.
Wind speeds approached 165 mph on Wednesday as the storm approached Acapulco, a Mexican resort town, at about 1 a.m. local time, according to a bulletin.
“There will be rain all day and we are trying to reestablish communications. So far, we have no data on human losses, but we do have data on material damage, broken roads … the highway itself reaching Acapulco has landslides,” López Obrador said Wednesday.
“There is no possibility of flying by plane or helicopter. We have to wait, the prognosis is that it will decrease in intensity,” López Obrador said.
In less than 24 hours, Otis went from tropical storm to Category 5 hurricane with winds of 165 mph. Such rapid intensification puts Otis amongst the top tropical cyclones on record.
“It is a very strong hurricane and it had atypical behavior,” López Obrador said.
Flash flooding is also possible with up to 20 inches of rain are expected through Thursday in areas including Guerrero and the western coastal sections of Oaxaca, officials said.
“This rainfall will produce flash and urban flooding, along with mudslides in areas of higher terrain,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm weakened to a tropical storm by midday Wednesday and dissipated later in the day.
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