Workers board up windows prior the landfall of Hurricane Willa, in Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Workers board up windows prior the landfall of Hurricane Willa, in Mazatlan, Mexico, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Willa weakens to tropical depression, still brings rain

Emergency officials said they evacuated more than 4,250 people in coastal towns and set up 58 shelters ahead of the dangerous Category 3 storm.

Hurricane Willa weakened rapidly into a tropical depression on Wednesday after slamming into a stretch of beach towns, fishing villages and farms along Mexico’s Pacific coast as a Category 3 storm, though it continued to dump torrential rains over west-central Mexico.

Willa began losing power overnight after roaring over a stretch of beach towns, fishing villages and farms on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Sinaloa state with winds of 120 mph (195 kph) Tuesday night.

Damage assessments were scanty before dawn due to darkness and poor communications, but federal officials said power had been knocked out in some spots and there were early reports of flimsy structures with tin roofs sustaining damage.

Before hitting the mainland near Isla del Bosque, Willa swept over an offshore penal colony about 60 miles (100 kilometres) out in the Pacific. Authorities declined to comment on precautions that were taken at the prison, citing security concerns, but said the safety of inmates was a priority.

The storm was rapidly losing punch over northern Mexico and was down to tropical depression status before dawn, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) — down from its Category 5 peak of 155 mph (250 kph) over the Pacific on Monday.

Willa was centred about 75 miles (120 kilometres) east-northeast of Durango, Mexico, and heading to the northeast at 25 mph (41 kph). It was expected to dissipate later in the day, despite dumping heavy rains.

Willa came ashore about 50 miles (80 kilometres) southeast of Mazatlan, a resort city that is home to high-rise hotels and about 500,000 people, including many U.S. and Canadian expatriates.

Although hotels, restaurants and stores were boarded over, people ventured onto Mazatlan’s coastal boulevard to watch a spectacular sunset as the hurricane obscured the sky to the south.

Alberto Hernandez, a hotel worker in the town of Teacapan, close to where the storm made landfall, expressed confidence before it hit that the building would hold up. He and his son, who also works at the hotel, stayed on the job, though the rest of his family had left the area.

“We’ve had rain all day. There is nobody in the streets. Everything is closed,” Hernandez said. “But not everyone wanted to leave, even though authorities made it clear that he who stays does so at his own peril.”

Torrential rains began in the afternoon, and emergency officials said they had evacuated more than 4,250 people in coastal towns and set up 58 shelters ahead of the dangerous storm. Schools were ordered closed.

As Willa neared, the beach in Mazatlan almost disappeared, with waves slamming against the coastal boulevard under looming black clouds. A few surfers enjoyed the big waves while the streets onshore were nearly deserted except for workers boarding up windows at hotels, shops and homes.

Some families took shelter at the Mazatlan convention centre, spreading out blankets along the walls to wait out the storm.

“The house we’re living in is not well built,” said Sergio Ernesto Meri Franco, who rents a studio apartment.

Related: Canadian troops, families take shelter in hotel after Florida hurricane

Related: Dangerous Cat 4 Hurricane Willa closing in on Mexico coast

___

Associated Press writer Isabella Cota in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Marco Ugarte, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Residents within the coverage area of Sidney-North Saanich RCMP will have to call Central Saanich Police Services at (250) 652-4441 for non-emergency calls for parts of Tuesday, Jan. 26. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney/North Saanich RCMP dials up police in Central Saanich for help

Non-emergency outage expected to last through the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 26

(Black Press Media file photo)
Court-registered sex offender arrested for breach of parole in Langford

Cameron Ratelle returned to correctional facility after female youth approached at bus stop

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth in police custody after kitchen knife call

A knife was recovered during the arrest, no injuries reported

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read