News24

Hurricane Jova barrels into Mexico

2011-10-12 08:36

Manzanillo - Hurricane Jova barrelled into Mexico's Pacific coast late on Tuesday, according to the national weather service, unleashing torrential rains and threatening devastating mudslides.

"Jova is landing on the coast of Jalisco, 45km southeast of Punta Farallon," meteorologist Marco Antonio Lugo told AFP, adding that it was a category two storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

The US-based National Hurricane Centre had earlier predicted that Jova would weaken after hitting land but warned of heavy rains and life-threatening mudslides.

The bustling port city of Manzanillo had been bracing for the storm's arrival, as Mexico issued hurricane alerts for large swaths of the Pacific coast and placed four southern coastal states on high alert.

A zone of about 500km could be affected by the storm, stretching from the port of Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan state to the popular tourist area of Cabo Corrientes in Jalisco state.

Winds of 160km/h

The Miami-based NHC said in its most recent advisory, at 03:00, that the storm was bearing down on the coast with maximum sustained winds of 160km/h.

"Hurricane conditions are likely beginning to spread over the coast of Mexico within the hurricane warning area," it said.

"A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the east of where the centre makes landfall. Near the coast... the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves."

It said the storm would move across western Mexico throughout Wednesday, dumping as much as 50cm of rain in some places, which "could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides over steep terrain."

Several major storms or hurricanes have buffeted Mexico's Pacific coast in recent months but most have remained offshore.

The season's first named storm, Arlene, left at least 16 people dead and drenched much of the country in July.

Tropical storms and hurricanes last year caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico that killed 125 people, left hundreds of thousands homeless and caused more than $4bn in damage.

Authorities are keeping their fingers crossed that any damage caused by the storm will not affect the 16th Pan American Games, one of the major events on the international sports calendar.

The games are to be held from October 14-30 in Jalisco and other cities, including Ciudad Guzman, Puerto Vallarta, Lagos de Moreno and Tapalpa, with about 6 000 athletes from 42 nations expected to participate.