Hurricane Willa 10-23-18
October 23, 2018
Hurricane Willa, a Category 3 storm located around 100 miles off the western coast of Mexico, is slowly pushing toward the coast this afternoon. Impacts have already begun, with outer rain bands reaching Puerto Vallarta. The storm will make landfall southeast of Mazatlán this evening.
Willa displayed remarkable strengthening this past weekend, reaching Category 5 intensity from a Tropical Storm in just 36 hours. Environmental conditions during the period of rapid intensification were ideal, with wind shear between 0 and 10 knots and sea surface temperatures exceeding 29 degrees Celsius. Thankfully some weakening has occurred prior to landfall, primarily due to Willa moving into a region with higher wind shear.
Although Willa will not directly impact the United States as a hurricane, as the remnants of the system move over the mountains of Mexico and into Texas, heavy rainfall will become a significant concern. The Texas Hill Country, which saw catastrophic flooding due to heavy rainfall last week, may receive 2-4 inches of additional rainfall over the next 24 to 48 hours. This will extend the flooding risk along the Colorado River and Lake Travis, the main water supply for the city of Austin. These floods have put major strain on the infrastructure of the city, and a boil order remains in effect for Austin, potentially for the next two weeks.
Willa’s Impact on the East Coast
Further downstream, the upper-level remnants of Willa may feed into the weather pattern off the East Coast of the United States. Forecast guidance suggests that a significant low-pressure system may develop off the Mid-Atlantic States before moving to the northeast. The exact evolution of this system remains uncertain, but a hurricane currently located thousands of miles away may have significant implications on the Eastern Seaboard this weekend.