October 12, 2011 – Hurricane Wreaks Havoc in Mexico: Hurricane Jova slammed into Mexico’s Pacific coast as a Category 2 storm early Wednesday, swamping beach towns and causing floods in the mountains above. The total extent of damage was still unclear; however, first reports reflected extensive damage. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Jova’s maximum sustained winds were 100 mph (160 kph) when it hit, making it a very strong Category 2 Hurricane. Heavy rain fell in the city of Manzanillo, Mexico’s second-biggest non-oil cargo port. It was closed to navigation because of the storm. The Hurricane Center in Miami warned that the storm surge could cause significant coastal flooding along the 210 mile (340-kilometer) stretch between Manzanillo and Cabo Corrientes, which is southwest of the resort city of Puerto Vallarta (see picture above).
Up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain could fall on isolated areas as Jova moves inland. Before nightfall Tuesday, marines visited flood-prone areas in Manzanillo to advise people to leave. They found a home for elderly people whose dwellings were already flooded and evacuated dozens of people to stay with relatives. Forty others were evacuated in the nearby town of Tecoman. Some people vowed to ride out the storm, while others took refuge at shelters in towns like Jaluco, just inland from the beach community of Barra de Navidad.
Jalisco state authorities evacuated about 200 people to shelters by Tuesday and issued alerts over loudspeakers placed in communities along the coast, telling people to take precautions. The state had 69 shelters ready. Authorities also set up shelters for residents of inland towns, where the mountainous terrain could cause flash floods and mudslides, which often pose the greatest danger from hurricanes. The Mexican army had assigned about 1,500 soldiers to hurricane preparedness and relief efforts. Jova was expected to hit the states of Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit the hardest. About 183,000 people live in the center of the storms projected path. The hurricane was expected to be dissipating by the time the Pan American Games start Friday in nearby Guadalajara.
A new tropical depression formed to the southeast, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph), and the Hurricane Center said it could become a tropical storm later in the day. A tropical storm warning was issued for Barra de Tonala, Mexico, and extends southward to the Guatemalan border. The depression was centered about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of Salina Cruz and was moving north near 5 mph (7 kph). The hurricane center said the depression’s center was expected to approach the coast Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Irwin lost some strength farther out in the Pacific with winds near 40 mph (65 kph). While it was expected to move eastward toward land, forecasts indicated it probably wouldn’t make landfall.
The Master of Disaster