Mexico: Highly dangerous hurricane “Otis” rages in Acapulco

The Pacific storm "Otis" hit Mexico's southwest coast with full force as a hurricane of the highest level 5 near the famous seaside resort of Acapulco.

Mexico: Highly dangerous hurricane “Otis” rages in Acapulco

The Pacific storm "Otis" hit Mexico's southwest coast with full force as a hurricane of the highest level 5 near the famous seaside resort of Acapulco. Communication with the region has completely broken down, said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The full extent of the damage is therefore still difficult to estimate. The storm reached the mainland on Wednesday night with sustained wind speeds of almost 270 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 330 kilometers per hour, according to the US Hurricane Center in Miami (NHC) and the Mexican Weather Service.

In just twelve hours, Otis had developed from a tropical storm into an extremely dangerous hurricane. "According to records, rarely does a hurricane develop so quickly and with such force," López Obrador said in a news conference.

Rapid intensification attributed to climate change

According to experts, the rapid intensification of hurricanes is due to climate change. Because sea surface temperatures are rising, hurricanes are not only able to absorb more water vapor, but are also doing so more quickly, according to a study by Rowan University in the US state of New Jersey recently published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

“Otis” lost strength over land and continued to move as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained wind speeds of 130 kilometers per hour, according to the Mexican Weather Service. According to meteorologists, "Otis" is expected to dissipate over the mountainous region during the day, but will continue to cause heavy rain.

Mexican Civil Defense reported power outages as a result of the storm in the state of Guerrero, which also includes Acapulco. According to the state provider CFE, 500,000 connections lost power. The power supply has now been partially restored. According to the president, there were also landslides on rural roads and damage to a military airport. There were initially no reports of fatalities.

Warnings of waves up to ten meters high

Before the storm arrived, authorities urged residents to seek shelter and stay away from windows as the panes could shatter. To save cell phone batteries, people should follow the news on battery-operated radios. The authorities also warned of very heavy rain and waves up to ten meters high at sea.

Local media reported flooding in coastal areas, covered roofs and fallen trees. On social networks, vacationers reported broken windows in hotels in Acapulco. The local government set up emergency shelters, Guerrero Governor Evelyn Salgado Pineda announced on the news platform X, formerly Twitter.

According to the NHC, the hurricane had the potential to cause "catastrophic damage." Heavy and persistent rain often causes landslides and floods in southern Mexico, which can cause fatalities and significant damage. Soldiers were deployed in the region. According to the president, the ministers of defense, navy, communications and security wanted to travel to the region to get a better overview of the situation.

Acapuclo is one of the most famous seaside resorts

Acapulco, around four hours' drive south of Mexico City, has around 780,000 inhabitants and is one of the best-known and most traditional Mexican seaside resorts. However, in recent years he has suffered greatly from the violence of the drug cartels. When Hurricane "Pauline" (also known as "Paulina") reached force four over the sea in October 1997, hundreds of people drowned in the rain in Acapulco and the surrounding area.

Tropical cyclones form over warm ocean water. Increasing global warming increases the likelihood of strong storms. A hurricane is defined as a wind speed of 119 kilometers per hour. Hurricane season begins on May 15th in the Pacific and June 1st in the Atlantic. It ends on November 30th in both regions.

The strength of hurricanes is measured according to a scale developed by meteorologists Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson: A Category 1 hurricane reaches speeds of up to 153 kilometers per hour. Level 2 applies up to speeds of 177, level 3 up to 208 and level 4 up to 251. Devastating damage is threatened by a hurricane of the highest category 5, which rotates with a wind speed of more than 251 kilometers per hour. Hurricanes often gain strength as they move over the sea. They quickly lose their strength over land because there is no supply of warm, moist air masses.