Hurricane Willa, headed for Mexico, strengthens to Category 4: NHC

Hurricane Willa as seen from NOAA's GOES East satellite on Sunday Oct. 21 2018.                        NOAA

"Slight weakening is forecast to begin on Tuesday, but Willa is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico", said forecasters.

The center said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday. It was moving to the north at 5 miles per hour (8 kph).

2018 has seen 10 major hurricanes, including Willa, which ties 1992 as the most major hurricanes ever seen in the NE Pacific in one year.

The top-level category five storm is expected to be an "extremely unsafe major hurricane", the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said, which could produce a "life-threatening storm surge".

WestJet has issued a travel advisory for passengers flying in or out of Puerto Vallarta as Hurricane Willa reaches Category 5 status off the Pacific coast of Mexico.

"Extremely dangerous" Hurricane Willa's eye is continuing to move northward and is about 110 miles off the southwestern coast of Mexico, said the U.S.

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"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion", the center warned residents living on Mexico's coast between San Blas and Mazatlan.

Models suggest, however that the storm has the potential to be formidable, as it will develop as the remnants of Category 5 Hurricane Willa, now in the eastern Pacific Ocean near Mexico's west coast, are drawn northeast into the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of the week.

Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometres) from the storm's centre, and tropical storm-force winds were up to 105 miles (165 kilometres) out.

The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close on Monday and began preparing emergency shelters ahead of the onslaught. The rainfall could cause life-threatening flash flooding and landslides.

Willa is expected to produce an extremely unsafe storm surge, pushing ocean water into portions of the coast by Tuesday. It was about 135 miles southwest of the Pacific town of Cabo Corrientes.

By early Monday, its core was about 195 miles (310 kilometres) southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph). This includes waterlogged Texas, which definitely does not need any additional rainfall.

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