Hurricane Otis tore through the Mexican city of Acapulco on Wednesday, October 25th, making landfall as a record-breaking Category 5 storm. With sustained winds of 165mph, it intensified from a tropical storm in just 12 hours.
A major hurricane had never made landfall within 50 miles of Acapulco and this is reportedly the strongest hurricane to hit Mexico and the eastern Pacific.
The torrential rain and high winds caught the Mexican beach resort town by surprise, not just because the storm intensified so quickly, but because almost exactly 3 years ago the Mexican Congress voted to dissolve the Trust Fund for Natural Disasters. This left the country woefully unprepared to deal with circumstances such as Hurricane Otis.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a news conference early on Wednesday that no loss of life had been reported as of yet, but he also confirmed that there had been “no communication” with the areas hit hard by the hurricane, which include Costa Grande, Acapulco and Tecpán, all in Guerrero state. There was extensive damage to the local military airport, which has made it difficult for emergency teams to get to the region.
The forecast is for at least 8 to 16 inches of rain through Thursday across the Mexican states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, the National Hurricane Center said. And videos on social media are already bad enough, with guests stuck inside hotel rooms, or taking cover wherever they can as severe rain batters resorts and houses alike. There have also been reports of landslides being triggered.
The scope of the damage will likely not be known for a few days, but Hurricane Otis serves as a stark reminder that systems need to be put in place to protect not just property, but most importantly, lives.