|The southwestern Mexican coast has seen a series of storms, including Hurricane Jova in recent months [AFP]
Mexico’s Pacific coast has been buffeted by several tropical storms or hurricanes over the past few months.
However, as is often the case, most have remained offshore and moved out into the open waters. Hurricane Jova on the other hand, took a sharp turn towards the coast a couple of days ago and now has nearly 500km of coastline on hurricane alert.
Jova is a major hurricane with winds now exceeding 200kph with gusts approaching 250kph. This makes it a category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale and it is expected to become a category 4 storm shortly before it makes landfall in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
By then the winds are likely to be around 215kph with much higher gusts. If Jova maintains its current pressure of 960hPa until it does make landfall, it will rank as one of the 10 most intense Pacific hurricanes to hit Mexico since records began in 1949.
Only seven storms of comparable strength have hit Mexico’s Pacific coast in that time. The area most at risk includes the popular tourist cape of Cabo Corrientes in Jalisco.
The states of Colima, Jalisco, Michoachan and Nayarit have all been put on guard for possible landslides from the heavy rain that is expected to hit the region.
Authorities have also shut down the port of Manzanillo, the biggest cargo centre on the country’s west coast.
A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding close to the area where Jova makes landfall. Large and destructive waves are expected with torrential rainfall and some areas could receive rainfall accumulations of up to 350 to 400 mm.
Meanwhile, further out to sea, Tropical Storm Irwin continues to weaken but this system is forecast to follow Jova into Mexico’s west coast next weekend. It is expected to hit, somewhere near Acapulco and that could also spell trouble of Guatemala and Honduras.