Hurricane Otis Devastates Acapulco as a Category 4 Storm

Hurricane Otis, one of the most powerful storms to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast, made landfall near Acapulco early Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm, bringing destructive winds, heavy rain and a potentially catastrophic storm surge. The hurricane, which rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 storm in less than 24 hours, weakened slightly as it moved inland, but still packed winds of 110 miles per hour, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). Otis is expected to dissipate over the coming 24 hours, but not before dumping up to 20 inches of rain in some areas and causing flash flooding and mudslides.

Hurricane Otis

Acapulco suffers major damage and power outages

The popular beach resort of Acapulco, which attracts millions of tourists every year, was hit hard by the hurricane, which tore apart hotels, flooded streets and knocked out power for most of the city. Videos broadcast on social media showed rooms wrecked by the passing of the hurricane, ceilings and walls rent open and cars partly submerged in floodwaters as the southern state of Guerrero awoke to the disarray left in Otis’ wake. Mexico’s civil protection authorities reported power outages throughout Guerrero, while flights to and from Acapulco were suspended and classes cancelled due to Otis.

Residents and tourists seek shelter and safety

Many residents and tourists in Acapulco sought shelter in storm shelters or hotels as the hurricane approached, while others tried to evacuate the city before the roads became impassable. The National Guard was ready for rescues and evacuations, while the Defense Ministry enacted a disaster plan ahead of the storm’s arrival, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said late on Tuesday. Some tourists said they were scared by the intensity of the storm, while others said they were impressed by the resilience of the locals. “We are very afraid. We have never seen anything like this,” said Maria Fernanda, a tourist from Mexico City who was staying at a hotel near the beach. “The people here are very brave. They are helping each other and trying to stay calm.”

Otis breaks records and poses challenges for recovery

Hurricane Otis was the first Category 5 storm to make landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast, according to the NOAA Hurricane Database. The previous strongest landfall was Hurricane Patricia in 2015, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph. Otis also achieved temperatures nearly seven times hotter than the core of the sun, according to scientists in South Korea who monitored the storm’s energy output. The hurricane’s rapid intensification and extreme strength posed challenges for forecasting and preparedness, as well as for recovery efforts in the aftermath. “This is a historic event for Mexico. We have never seen such a powerful hurricane hit our coast,” said Carlos Valdes, the director of Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention. “We are facing a very difficult situation, but we are working together with all levels of government and civil society to help the affected people.”

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