Acapulco Hurricane Left at Least 27 Dead

Category 5 storm intensified rapidly and devastated Acapulco
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2023 8:58 AM CDT
Updated Oct 26, 2023 10:25 AM CDT
Hurricane Otis Leaves Devastation in Acapulco
People loot a grocery store after Hurricane Otis ripped through Acapulco, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.   (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
UPDATE Oct 26, 2023 10:25 AM CDT

The first casualty numbers are in for Hurricane Otis, which slammed Mexico's Pacific coast on Wednesday. At least 27 people were killed and another four are missing, reports the AP. One factor under review: why forecasters weren't able to predict the hurricane would intensify as quickly as it did.

Oct 26, 2023 8:58 AM CDT

Hurricane Otis slammed into Acapulco as a Category 5 storm Wednesday, leaving behind chaos and widespread devastation in the Mexican resort city—but with phone and internet service mostly cut off, the extent of the damage is hard to determine, NPR reports. Videos posted online show flooded streets and many badly damaged buildings, including the airport. The AP reports that many of the city's formerly sleek beachfront hotels now look like "toothless, shattered hulks." Troops arrived in the city along with trucks of aid after the main highway was reopened, but the soldiers lacked the tools to clear fallen trees from the roads.

The hills that surround the city on Mexico's Pacific coast are densely populated, working-class areas prone to mudslides, the Wall Street Journal reports. Officials haven't released figures on deaths and injuries, but more than 200 people died when Hurricane Pauline—a weaker storm—hit the area in 1997. The storm's rapid intensification from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane Tuesday gave residents almost no time to prepare. The National Hurricane Center said the storm had "explosively intensified" as it moved over warm water.

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"It's one thing to have a Category 5 hurricane make landfall somewhere when you're expecting it or expecting a strong hurricane, but to have it happen when you're not expecting anything to happen is truly a nightmare," University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy tells the AP. Scientists say such rapid intensification is a result of climate change and will likely occur more often in the years ahead, CNN reports. (More hurricane stories.)

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