Hurricane Otis bears down on Mexico as "catastrophic damage" looms

Acapulco, Mexico - A major Category 5 hurricane made landfall near Mexico's Pacific beach resort of Acapulco early Wednesday, threatening to wreak "catastrophic" damage, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The Category 5 Hurricane Otis made landfall near Acapulco in Mexico, where there are warnings of potentially catastrophic damage.
The Category 5 Hurricane Otis made landfall near Acapulco in Mexico, where there are warnings of potentially catastrophic damage.  © FRANCISCO ROBLES / AFP

Hurricane Otis was packing maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour when it came ashore, according to the NHC.

The storm had rapidly strengthened to the most powerful category of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale as it neared land.

"Catastrophic damage likely where the core of the hurricane moves onshore," the NHC warned.

Space debris from International Space Station crashes into Florida home
Space Travel Space debris from International Space Station crashes into Florida home

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made an appeal on social media for people to move to emergency shelters and away from rivers, streams and ravines.

Earlier, soldiers were seen patrolling the beach of Acapulco, where visitors had made the most of the calm before the storm.

"We won't be running any tours today," boat operator Carolina Torres said, voicing hope that Otis might weaken before making landfall.

"If it hits us, that's very serious for us," she added.

National Hurricane Center warns of "life-threatening" conditions

Tropical Storm Norma left three people dead after making landfall in Mexico twice over the past few days.
Tropical Storm Norma left three people dead after making landfall in Mexico twice over the past few days.  © via REUTERS

Rainfall of up to 20 inches was expected across Guerrero and parts of neighboring Oaxaca state, the NHC said.

"This rainfall will produce flash and urban flooding, along with mudslides in areas of higher terrain," it warned. "A potentially catastrophic storm surge is expected to produce life-threatening coastal flooding."

Hurricanes hit Mexico every year on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts, usually between May and November, though few make landfall as a Category 5.

Mass bleaching event threatens total collapse of world's coral reef ecosystems
Environment and Climate Mass bleaching event threatens total collapse of world's coral reef ecosystems

Just this week, Tropical Storm Norma left three people dead, including a child, after making landfall for a second time in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. Norma came ashore for the first time on the Baja California peninsula on Saturday before heading back out to sea, later barreling into the mainland.

Earlier this month, two people died when Hurricane Lidia, an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm, struck the western states of Jalisco and Nayarit.

And in August, storm Hilary, which at one point was also a Category 4 hurricane, caused one death and damaged infrastructure when it hit Baja California.

Scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer with climate change.

Cover photo: FRANCISCO ROBLES / AFP

More on Environment and Climate: