Hurricane Otis, the latest of a string of named storms that highlighted a busy 2023 hurricane season, made landfall in Mexico near Acapulco early Wednesday morning as a powerful Category 5 hurricane, the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Otis hit southern Mexico near Acapulco late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, bringing winds of up to 160 mph to the area.
Once it made landfall, Otis quickly weakened to a Category 4 hurricane, but was still extremely dangerous, both because of its winds and also because of the heavy rainfall and flash flooding that was coming with a storm of this size and significance.
NHC officials say Otis will bring “damaging hurricane-force winds” to southern Mexico that will remain “extremely destructive” over the early hours of Wednesday. It is then expected to dissipate quickly over southern Mexico by Wednesday night, but will remain dangerous for those in the area.
“Life-threatening storm surge will continue along the coast of southern Mexico this morning in areas of onshore winds within the hurricane warning,” the latest update from the NHC reads. “Heavy rains from Otis will continue to impact areas of southwest Mexico through Tuesday. This rainfall will produce flash and urban flooding, along with mudslides in areas of higher terrain.”
As of Wednesday morning, a hurricane warning was in effect for the area between Punta Maldonado, which is about 150 miles south of Acapulco, westward to Zihuatanejo.
The area’s main airport, Acapulco International Airport, which is located near sea level on the coast of the city, canceled essentially all flights out of the airport on Wednesday morning. Most of the routes, according to Flightradar24, were directs to other Mexican cities, including Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Tijuana on carriers including AeroMéxico, Viva Aerobus, and more.
The airport’s afternoon flights are still scheduled to operate as of 7 a.m. EST on Wednesday, however, because of its location, both in the storm’s path and on the coast, more disruptions could be caused if the expected storm surge impacts the airport.