Hurricane Otis has become an “extremely dangerous” category five storm as it barrels towards southern Mexico, US meteorologists have warned.
The storm’s wind speeds have now increased to nearly 160 mph, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Otis is expected to weaken quickly once it makes landfall Wednesday morning.
Nevertheless, the NHC warned of “destructive waves” and severe flooding in coastal areas, including the popular resort of Acapulco.
In its latest bulletin at 0300 GMT on Wednesday, the NHC said Otis was about 55 miles southeast of Acapulco.
A hurricane warning is now in effect for a 350-kilometer stretch of coastline between the coastal towns of Zihuatanejo and Punta Maldonado in Guerrero state.
“A potentially catastrophic storm surge is expected to cause life-threatening coastal flooding near and east of where the center makes landfall,” the NHC said.
“Near the coast, it will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.”
It added that Otis was expected to produce up to 20 inches (51 cm) of rainfall in Guerrero and the western coastal areas of neighboring Oaxaca state on Friday.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has urged people to move to emergency shelters away from rivers, streams, and ravines.
Before the hurricane arrived, Guerrero authorities prepared emergency shelters.
School classes across the state have also been canceled.
In Acapulco, soldiers patrol the beach area.
Parts of Mexico’s Pacific coast have already experienced significant flooding after Tropical Storm Max hit earlier this month. Local media reported two deaths from the storm in Guerrero.
A few days later, one man was reportedly killed after powerful Hurricane Lidia made landfall in Nayarit state, northwest of Guerrero.