MEXICO CITY: Hurricane Orlene roared toward Mexico’s Pacific coast between the tourist towns of Mazatlan and San Blas on Monday (Oct 3), with authorities there suspending classes and setting up shelters.
After growing into a hurricane on Saturday, Orlene quickly added power, peaking as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 215kmh early Sunday, according to the United States National Hurricane Center. But winds slipped back to 165kmh by late Sunday night.
The storm moved over or near the Islas Marias, a former prison colony being developed as a tourist draw. The island is sparsely populated by government employees and buildings there are made of brick or concrete.
Orlene was forecast to hit Mexico's Pacific coast along a sparsely populated, lagoon-dotted stretch of mainland south of Mazatlan by late Monday.
By late Sunday night, Orlene was centered about 140km northwest of Cabo Corrientes - a point of land that juts into the Pacific just south of Puerto Vallarta - and was headed north at 13kmh early Sunday.
A hurricane warning was in effect from San Blas to Mazatlan.
The government of Jalisco state, where Puerto Vallarta is located, suspended classes on Monday in towns and cities along the coast.
The state civil defense office posted video of large waves crashing on a dock at Cabo Corrientes.
In Sinaloa, where Mazatlan is located, some emergency shelters were opened.
The center said the storm would likely begin weakening as its moved closer to land. But it was still projected to hit as a hurricane.
It could bring flood-inducing rainfall of up to 25cm in some places, as well as coastal flooding and dangerous surf.
The ports of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta were closed to ships and Mexico's navy announced that ports including Mazatlan, San Blas and Nuevo Vallarta were closed to small craft.
Mexico's National Water Commission said Orlene could cause “mudslides, rising river and stream levels, and flooding in low-lying areas”.
The hurricane center said hurricane-force winds extended out about 30km from the center and tropical storm-force winds out to 110km.