Though weakened, Otis knocks out power, causes landslides in Mexico

Hurricane Otis weakened to a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon after making landfall as a powerful hurricane in Mexico early on Wednesday. The storm delivered pounding surf in Acapulco (pictured) the day before. Photo by David Guzman/EPA-EFE

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Hurricane Otis weakened to a tropical storm Wednesday after it made landfall in Mexico early in the morning.

It knocked out communications in Acapulco as it lashed southern Mexico with pounding winds, flash flooding and landslides.

In its 1 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said the storm was located about 130 miles north-northwest of Acapulco, Mexico, and was moving north-northwest at 10 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said landslides also have blocked some roads.

"The highway to Acapulco is blocked by landslides," he said. "Today we will continue with the rescue efforts for the ones affected."

Power was knocked out to more than 500,000 customers in Guerrero state, according to the power company CFE, but about 40% of those affected have had power restored.

Otis intensified quickly in just 24 hours to become a monster Category 5 hurricane before landfall.

"Imagine starting your day expecting a stiff breeze and some rain, and overnight you get catastrophic 165 mph winds," Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Science, wrote on X. "Just 24 hours prior, it was a tropical storm and was forecast to make landfall as a tropical storm."

National Hurricane Center forecasters warned residents in southern regions of Mexico to be alert for heavy rains and the threat of flash flooding.

"Tropical-storm-force winds are expected inland over southern Mexico near the center of Otis during the next several hours, with the strongest winds atop and on the windward sides of hills and and mountains," the NHC said in its 1 p.m. update. "Gusty winds are also expected in a few squalls along the coast in the Tropical Storm Warning area."

"We don't have a damage assessment because until now, there is no communication with Acapulco," National Coordinator of Civil Protection Laura Velázquez said on local news station Milenio TV. Velázquez said there is no information on injured or missing people due to the lack of working communication systems are currently down, including the ones used by the Navy.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Punta Maldonado westward to Acapulco. Mexico has discontinued its hurricane warning west of Acapulco, forecasters said.

Otis made landfall at around 1:25 a.m. CDT about 5 miles south of Acapulco as a Category 5 storm packing maximum sustained winds of 165 mph.

Strong winds continued to spread inland over southern Mexico with heavy rainfall and flash flooding. Hurricane-force winds extend 25 miles from the storm's center, forecasters said in their latest advisory.

"Otis is expected to produce additional rainfall totals of 4-6 inches (locally as high as 8) through Thursday across Guerrero and the western coastal sections of Oaxaca," the NHC said. "This rainfall will produce flash and urban flooding, along with mudslides in areas of higher terrain."

"Continued rapid weakening is expected while Otis moves farther inland over the higher terrain of Mexico. Otis will likely dissipate over southern Mexico tonight," the NHC added.

The forecasters are warning that damaging hurricane-force winds were spreading inland over southern Mexico where heavy rains were also causing flash flooding.

"There are no hurricanes on record even close to this intensity for this part of Mexico."

The NHC said life-threatening storm surges will continue along the southern Mexican coast, with "rainfall totals of 8 to 16 inches with maximum amounts of 20 inches through Thursday across Guerrero and the western coastal sections of Oaxaca."