What was supposed to be a simple tropical storm unexpectedly escalated rapidly into the first ever force 5 hurricane to hit Mexico during the night of October 25 destroying much of Acapulco and killing at least 27 people.
Hurricane Otis hit a devastating blow to the 1 million residents of the luxury seaside resort town of Acapulco in Mexico that has never seen even a category 3 storm hit its shores before.
Acapulco has been left in ruins after Hurricane Otis slammed into the coast with little warning, tearing through ill prepared high-rise apartments and inundated roads. At least 27 people are reported killed in the storm overnight with four more still missing, according to Mexican Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez at a news conference on October 26 morning.
It was the first Eastern Pacific hurricane ever recorded to make landfall as a category 5 in Mexico. In a shocking turn of events, what was a tropical storm that was building during the day in the Eastern Pacific unexpectedly and explosively intensified to first a Category 4 hurricane in just 12 hours before increasing again to a category 5 just as it hit the coast close to the legendary Mexican city of Acapulco.
Officials and military aid finally arrived in Acapulco late on October 25 after their journey was hindered by the same damage from the storm, CNN reports.
Images and video on social media show structures torn apart, including several high-rises that had their facades ripped off by the high winds. Storm surge and rain left roads inundated, as residents waded through thigh-high water trying to escape the devastation.
Metrological models failed to predict the hurricane and analysts completely missed the danger of the storm escalating into a major hurricane, taking the population of Acapulco by surprise. Residents had little time to find a safe shelter and protect life and property from the life-threatening storm. One of the causes for the rapid growth in the power of the storm has been blamed on warmer than normal sea temperatures due to this year’s El Niño effect.
“In all of Acapulco there is not a standing [electric] pole,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during a news conference on October 26, CNN reports. More than 1,000 workers have been sent to the city to rebuild the power grid so water service can be restored to the area.
The storm plunged the entire Guerrero state into darkness, cutting off more than 500,000 homes and businesses Mexico’s power utility CFE said. Service has already been restored to 40% of those affected, it added.
About 80% of Acapulco’s hotels were impacted by Otis, according to Guerrero governor Evelyn Salgado as the city is a major tourist attraction.
By the afternoon of the same day, Otis had dissipated over the mountains of southern Mexico, but the storm’s heavy rains are forecast to continue, possibly triggering flash flooding and mudslides.
The Acapulco International Airport has suspended operations as it begins repairs, the office of Mexico’s Secretary of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation said in a press release.
A major hurricane of category 3 strength has never made landfall within 50 miles of Acapulco, let alone a Category 5 hurricane.