TORONTO — 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.
The advisory, posted Oct. 21, waives change fees for passengers booked on PVR flights through Oct. 26.
Willa now has maximum sustained winds of 260 kph. Earlier this morning the storm was centred about 325 kilometres south-southwest of the Islas Marias and 250 kilometres south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes. It was moving north at 11 kph.
The “extremely dangerous” storm is on a path to hit Mexico’s western coast by Wednesday, according to reports.
The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close on Monday and began preparing emergency shelters.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Willa could “produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday.” It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday, generating life-threatening surf and rip tide conditions.
A hurricane warning was posted for Mexico’s western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan, including the Islas Marias.
Tropical storm warnings ranged from Playa Perula north to San Blas and from Mazatlan north to Bahia Tempehuaya. The centre said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
The hurricane centre said 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cms) of rain should fall – and some places could see up to 18 inches (45 cms) – on parts of western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states. It warned of the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.
Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.
By early this morning Willa’s core was about 310 kilometres southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 75 kph. The hurricane centre said it could produce 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cms) of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.
With files from The Associated Press