CATEGORY 5 Hurricane Willa is set to pound the Mexican holiday hotspot of Mazatlan when it makes landfall in the next couple of days – but where is Mazatlan?
Hurricane Willa is now a “potentially catastrophic” category 5 tropical storm expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, wind and rain to central and southwestern Mexico.
The monster storm, which is packing 160mph winds, was upgraded to the stronget level possible on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale at 4pm BST on Monday.
NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Willa was churning about 175 miles south-southwest of Las Islas Marias, Mexico, in its latest update.
Mandatory evacuations are being ordered for schools in coastal regions along Mexico’s Pacific Coast where Willa will make landfall and push sea water inland.
Several populated areas are in Willa’s path including Mazatlan, which has about 500,000 people including US and Canadian expats.
The popular tourist town is lined with hotels and celebrated for its 12-mile golden beaches, golf resorts and lively nightlife.
US News & World Report recently named it the fifth best place in the world to retire.
Other local tourist destinations expected to be in Willa's path include Ezquinapa, where 60,000 people live.
Rainfall of between six and 12 inches are expected to drench western Jalisco, western Nayarit, and southern Sinaloa.