Hurricane Otis, a record-breaking Category 5 storm, unleashed catastrophic damage on Mexico’s western shore, leaving at least 27 people dead and several others missing, according to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s office. The storm made landfall with unprecedented ferocity, causing widespread destruction in its path.
As Hurricane Otis approached Mexico’s Pacific Coast, it rapidly intensified, transforming from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane within a mere 24 hours. With wind speeds reaching up to 165 mph, it became the most potent hurricane ever recorded to strike Mexico’s Pacific Coast, surpassing the previous record held by Category 4 Hurricane Patricia in 2015.
The hurricane’s intense winds and heavy rains wreaked havoc as it approached the Mexican resort town of Acapulco around 1 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The storm’s impact resulted in broken roads and landslides, making communication and access to the affected areas extremely challenging.
Mexican President López Obrador stated, “There will be rain all day, and we are trying to reestablish communications. So far, we have no data on human losses, but we do have data on material damage. The highway itself reaching Acapulco has landslides. There is no possibility of flying by plane or helicopter. We have to wait, and the prognosis is that it will decrease in intensity.”
The hurricane’s rapid intensification is described as atypical by meteorologists, placing Otis among the most powerful tropical cyclones on record. While the storm did weaken to a tropical storm by midday on Wednesday, it had already left a trail of destruction in its wake.
Flash flooding remains a significant concern, with up to 20 inches of rain expected through Thursday in areas, including Guerrero and the western coastal sections of Oaxaca. Officials warn that this heavy rainfall may lead to flash floods, urban flooding, and mudslides in areas of higher terrain.
While Otis has dissipated as of later in the day, the aftermath of this unprecedented storm will pose significant challenges for affected regions. Emergency responders and authorities are working tirelessly to assess the full extent of the damage and provide assistance to those in need.
The impact of Hurricane Otis serves as a stark reminder of the devastating potential of extreme weather events, underlining the need for proactive disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts in the face of an ever-changing climate. Our thoughts and condolences go out to those affected by this tragic natural disaster, and the world watches with concern as the recovery efforts continue.