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Hurricane Willa makes landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast

Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 23, 2018

Hurricane Willa has made landfall near Isla Del Bosque, Sinaloa, on the western coast of Mexico, approximately 50 miles south of Mazatlán.

The storm will quickly weaken over the next 24 hours as it makes its way across the Sierra Madre range and becomes a rainmaker for northern Mexico and Texas on Wednesday.

When Willa made landfall Tuesday evening, it had top winds of 120 MPH. The Category 3 storm, while still a major hurricane, has weakened since peaking as a Category 5 hurricane on Monday. 

Willa has been a danger for forecasters as well. An aircraft with the Air Force Reserve's Hurricane Hunters was forced to turn around Monday over concerns for its onboard equipment after a lightning bolt from one of Willa's outer rain bands blasted it, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In a tweet Monday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he has asked the National System of Civil Protection to take all steps necessary to protect those in the hurricane's path as well as those affected by Tropical Storm Vicente, a weaker system tracking south of Willa that's also primed to make landfall Tuesday. Vicente likely will be a tropical depression by the time it comes ashore, the hurricane center said.

Airlines have started moving out of Willa's path. Southwest Airlines has canceled all flights at the international airport in Puerto Vallarta, a resort city in Jalisco state. American Airlines has canceled its flights in Mazatlán, about 275 miles to the north.

Willa's landfall comes three years to the day after the strongest hurricane to hit the Pacific coast, Patricia, a Category 5 storm, made landfall in Jalisco.

The back-to-back systems of Willa and Vicente have helped make the 2018 hurricane season in the northeast Pacific one for the record books.

The season is now the most active hurricane season on record using a measurement called accumulated cyclone energy, which combines the number of storms and their intensity through their lifetimes to give an overall measurement of tropical activity in a given region.