Hurricane Willa grew into a potentially catastrophic Category 5 storm and swept toward Mexico's Pacific coast with winds of 160mph Monday, threatening a stretch of high-rise resort hotels, surfing beaches, and fishing villages, per the AP. The hurricane was expected to pass over or near the Islas Marias—a set of islands about 60 miles offshore that include a nature preserve and a federal prison—early Tuesday, then blow ashore in the afternoon or the evening between the resort town of Mazatlan and San Blas, a distance of about 140 miles. Mazatlan, with a metropolitan-area population of about 500,000, is a popular vacation spot. It is closer to the US than most other Pacific resorts and home to a large number of American and Canadian expatriates.
The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close and began preparing emergency shelters. The hurricane's projected track also included Esquinapa, a town a few miles inland with almost 60,000 people in and around it. The US National Hurricane Center warned that Willa could bring 6 to 12 inches of rain—with up to 18 inches in some places—to parts of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Sinaloa states, with flash flooding and landslides possible in mountainous areas. (In the US, a reporter helped rescue a dog from floodwaters.)
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