Hurricane Willa strengthened Monday morning to Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale and Willa poses an imminent threat to Mexico. At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday the center of Hurricane Willa was located at latitude 19.1°N and longitude 107.2°W which put it about 135 miles (215 km) southwest of Cabo Corrientes. Willa was moving toward the north at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 190 m.p.h. (305 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 925 mb.
A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from San Blas to Mazatlan, Mexico. Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portion of the coast from Playa Perula to San Blas and from Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya, Mexico.
Hurricane Willa strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in 36 hours. Willa is a small, very well organized hurricane. There is a small circular eye at the center of circulation. The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms. Several bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of Hurricane Willa. Storms near the core are generating strong upper level divergence which is pumping mass away from the hurricane.
Hurricane Willa is a small hurricane. Winds to hurricane force extend out about 30 miles ( 50 km) from the center of Willa. Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center of circulation. The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Willa is 35.0. The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 9.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 44.7. The core of Hurricane Willa is capable of causing catastrophic damage.
Hurricane Willa will remain in an environment capable of supporting strong hurricanes for about another 24 hours. Willa will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C. It will move through an environment where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear. If an outer rainband wraps around the existing eye and eyewall, then an eyewall replacement cycle could cause Hurricane Willa to weaken. An upper level trough near the West Coast of the U.S. will produce southwesterly winds which will blow toward the top of Hurricane Willa on Tuesday. Those winds will cause vertical wind shear and the shear will start to weaken Willa. Since Willa is a small hurricane, it will weaken faster than a larger hurricane would weaken.
Hurricane Willa will move around the western end of a ridge of high pressure over Mexico. The ridge will steer Willa toward the north for another 12 hours or so. Then the upper level trough will turn Hurricane Willa toward the northeast. On its anticipated track Hurricane Willa will move over the Islas Marias on Tuesday morning. Willa will reach the coast of Mexico between San Blas and Mazatlan on Tuesday afternoon or evening.
Hurricane Willa could still be a major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico. Willa will be capable of causing major damage. The core of Hurricane Willa will bring damaging winds. It will also produce a storm surge of 10 to 13 feet (3 to 4 meters) near where core of Willa makes landfall. Hurricane Willa will drop heavy rain over Nayarit, Sinaloa and Durango. The heavy rain could cause flash floods in some locations.
Elsewhere over the Eastern North Pacific Ocean, upper level divergence from Hurricane Willa appeared to be causing wind shear which was weakening Tropical Storm Vicente. At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Storm Vicente was located at latitude 14.9°N and longitude 100.8°W which put it about 365 miles (590 km) southeast of Manzanillo, Mexico. Vicente was moving toward the west-northwest at 12 m.p.h. (19 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 1004 mb.