Hurricane Willa, an "extremely dangerous" category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph gave Sayulita quite the scare as she headed toward the Pacific coast of Mexico starting on Monday, October 22nd, 2018. With the fear that Willa would hit Puerto Vallarta and the Nayarit region, residents of Sayulita took precaution; all schools were closed, many local restaurants and businesses shut down, and lots of people made sure to stock up on non-perishable food and drinking water in case of extended power outages, as well as taking other preventative measures such as sealing and boarding up windows/doorways to prevent wind or water damage.
Willa briefly reached a category 5 strength, and then weakened back to a category 4. Originally the hurricane trajectory was to near the Islas Marias and Puerto Vallarta region. Forecasters predicted that Willa would then blow along a 140-mile stretch from Mazatlan to San Blas. However, early Tuesday morning of October 23rd, Willa shifted and was centered about 78 miles Southwest of the Islas Marias, and 175 miles South-Southwest of Mazatlan, moving North at 5 mph. The US Hurricane Center warned that Willa could bring 6 to 12 inches of rain, with up to 18 inches in some parts of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Sinaloa states, with flash flooding and landslides possible in mountainous areas.
Luckily for our little pueblo of Sayulita, we were spared by the direct hit of the hurricane, but did receive heavy rain, large waves, power outages, and some strong winds. Some surfers even braved the weather and took to the ocean, stoked by the large waves that Willa brought along with her until Protecion Civil pulled all the surfers out of the water around 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday the 23rd. Thankfully, not much damage has been reported in town, however, sadly the palapa for "Las Sirenas" was destroyed by the impact of the strong waves on Tuesday afternoon.
A decree of "extraordinary emergency" was issued for 19 municipalities in Nayarit and Sinaloa states, the Federal Interior Department announced. Nayarit governor Antonio Echevarria said more than 10,000 people were being evacuated from coastal regions.
Farther to the South, Tropical Storm Vincente had weakened to a tropical depression early Tuesday, but it was still bringing heavy rainfall that caused dangerous flooding in Southern and South-Western Mexico. Officials in Oaxaca state reported that 7 adults and 5 children had lost their lives in drownings or mudslides.
*Written by: Aanya Sheikh-Taheri