Pamela forecast to get to ‘near major hurricane strength’ when it reaches Mexican coast early Wednesday, NHC says.
Hurricane Pamela is gathering strength as it barrels towards Mexico’s western coast, with the US-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicting it will strengthen further before dumping heavy rain on the fertile farm state of Sinaloa.
The Category 1 hurricane was located about 450km (280 miles) south of the major Sinaloa beach resort of Mazatlan and was forecast to turn northward before making landfall at potentially Category 3 strength, the NHC said on Tuesday morning.
Pamela was packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometres per hour (80 mph) and was already causing rain along parts of Mexico’s Pacific coast.
“Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast, and Pamela is expected to be near major hurricane strength when it reaches the coast of Mexico early Wednesday,” the NHC said in an update at 15:00 GMT on Tuesday.
The Miami-based centre also warned of possible life-threatening storm surge, flash floods and dangerous winds around the impact area. Weakened remnants of the storm may reach the US state of Texas later in the week.
Pamela is expected to drench Sinaloa, which is the country’s top grower of corn, Mexico’s staple grain, as well as a major producer of tomatoes and other fruits that figure prominently in the country’s agricultural exports to the United States.
A tropical storm watch extends from the fishing village of Los Barriles on the Sea of Cortes side of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula down to the southern tip at Cabo San Lucas.
But Pamela’s fury is seen mostly heading for Mexico’s southwest mainland, with “large and destructive waves” near the coast and rainfall of between 10 and 30 centimetres (four and 12 inches) seen hitting both Sinaloa and the neighbouring state of Durango.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) October 11, 2021
The hurricane was churning northward at about 21km/h (13 mph) early Tuesday.
“This rainfall may trigger significant and life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides,” the NHC added.
Last year, Sinaloa alone produced more than 380,000 tonnes of tomatoes, or nearly a fifth of Mexico’s national output and overwhelmingly destined for export, according to government data.
Because of its location, Mexico is often hit by tropical storms and hurricanes on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
In August, Hurricane Nora made landfall in the Pacific state of Jalisco, killing a child and leaving one person missing. Hurricane Grace left at least 11 dead in the eastern coast of Mexico’s mainland the same month.
In September, Hurricane Olaf made landfall on the Baja California Peninsula, causing minor damage.