Hurricane Otis, judged "potentially catastrophic", weakened after hitting We set foot on land Wednesday near Acapulco, a famous resort town on the Pacific coast in western Mexico, where the cyclone caused a breakdown of communications.
“So far we have no information on loss of life, but there is no communication,” declared President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during his conference daily press.
The president mentioned “material damage”, evoking “collapses” along the highway leading to Acapulco, and assured that the government was trying to restore communications.
“Take shelter, stay in safe places: far from rivers, streams, ravines and be vigilant,” he warned on X (ex-Twitter) Tuesday evening.
At daybreak on Wednesday, a large part of Acapulco – which has nearly 780,000 inhabitants – was without electricity following a preventive cut, according to local media, when the hurricane made landfall in night from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Businesses were affected and tourists in hotels placed beds and mattresses to protect their rooms, according to videos on social networks.
“I ask you not to let your guard down,” Governor Evelyn Salgado insisted Wednesday morning to residents of the state of Guerrero (southwest).
Otis, however, was downgraded to category 2, compared to 5 previously, on the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the American National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The hurricane was moving at 17 km /h with winds of 175 km/hour 100 km northwest of Acapulco.
Hurricane Otis © AFP – Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA, Anibal MAIZ CACERES < p>In Acapulco, residents barricaded themselves in their homes after storing food and water.
The hotels are 50% full and the local authorities have prepared reception places in the hostels, while the military has patrolled the beach.
Schools were closed by order of the government of the state of Guerrero.
Off the Pacific, the cyclone gained strength in just a few hours.
– Paulina, Norma, Patricia, Ingrid… –
Governor Evelyn Salgado insisted on the importance of coordination between authorities and the armed forces for “the well-being of residents and avoiding risks” in a country regularly hit by hurricanes.
< img class="aligncenter" src="/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/291d482d83fabae44ae498e224250711.jpg" alt="Mexico: Hurricane Otis weakens after making landfall near Acapulco" />
The window of a store protected by wooden panels before the arrival of Hurricane Otis, October 24, 2023 in Acapulco, Mexico © AFP – FRANCISCO ROBLES
October 9, 1997, the seaside resort of Acapulco was struck by Paulina, which caused the death of more than 200 people and caused one of the most serious natural disasters in the country, apart from the earthquake.
Last week, Hurricane Norma killed three people a little further north, in the state of Sinaloa. Norma made landfall twice, first in the Baja California peninsula, then in the state of Sinaloa.
Caught between the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico is exposed to hurricanes during the season which goes from May to October-November. A dozen depressions per year can turn into more or less devastating hurricanes.
The most powerful ever recorded, Patricia, in October 2015, with winds of 325 km/h, however, only caused material damage because it entered the territory through an uninhabited mountainous area.
In September 2013, Hurricane Ingrid in the Gulf and Tropical Storm Manuel in the Pacific simultaneously took over Mexico.
With the warming of the ocean surface, the frequency of cyclones (or hurricanes or typhoons depending on the region) the most intense increases, but not their total number.
Satellite image of Hurricane Otis approaching the coast of Mexico, October 24, 2023 © NOAA – –
According to the International Group of Climate Experts (IPCC), the proportion of particularly intense cyclones (category 4 and 5) should thus increase by 10% compared to the pre-industrial era with a warming of +1.5°C of 30%.
They notably pose a risk of more more important for coastal communities victims of wave-submersion phenomena (also called marine submersion) amplified by rising ocean levels, which cause flooding and salt contamination of land and fresh water.
Due to rising sea levels and marine flooding, more than a billion people will live in coastal cities at risk by 2050, according to the IPCC.
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