(CTN News) – On Wednesday morning, Hurricane Otis hit Mexico’s southern Pacific coast as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, bringing high winds of 165 mph (270 km/h) and heavy rains to Acapulco and nearby towns that sparked memories of a storm that killed dozens of people in 1997.
In the steep mountains of Guerrero state, the hurricane was expected to weaken quickly as it passed over the state. There has been a forecast of five to 10 inches of rain, with as much as 15 inches possible in some areas, which is raising the threat of landslides and flooding.
As Otis continued to strengthen Tuesday, it went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane within a matter of 12 hours. In the wake of the storm’s sudden intensity, many residents of Guerrero’s coast scrambled to prepare, but the storm’s sudden intensity seemed to catch many off guard.
“We are on maximum alert at this point in time,” Acapulco Mayor Abelina López said when urging the city’s residents to hunker down at home or move into the city’s shelters on Tuesday night.
In López’s opinion, Otis could be more destructive than Hurricane Pauline in 1997, which destroyed swaths of the city and killed more than 200 people in Acapulco, according to the mayor of the city. As a result of flooding and mudslides, hundreds of other people were injured as well.
It is estimated that there are two dozen small towns and villages situated between the mountains and the ocean between the internationally known resorts of Acapulco and Zihuatanejo.
It was just a few days after Hurricane Norma hit the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula to the north of the city when Otis arrived.
Located at the foot of steep mountains, the city of Acapulco has a population of more than one million people. On the hillsides of the city are a mix of luxury homes and slums, both overlooking the glistening Pacific from their windows.
Guerrero is one of the most impoverished and violent states in Mexico. In El Papayo, which is located in the Guerrero township of Coyuca de Benitez, not far from the impact zone of Otis, a local police chief and 12 officers were massacred and found on a highway just hours earlier.
After sweeping through the Lesser Antilles over the weekend, Hurricane Tammy continued moving northeastward over open water with winds of 85 mph (140 kph) after leaving behind a path of destruction in the Atlantic.
At the time of Tammy’s landfall, she was located approximately 570 miles (915 kilometers) to the south-southeast of Bermuda. According to the US National Hurricane Center, the storm was expected to intensify into a powerful extratropical cyclone by Thursday.