Hurricane Orlene strengthened to a Category 4 storm Sunday on its path toward the northwest Pacific coast of Mexico, bringing forecasts of severe rain, storm surge and flash flooding to the region going into Monday.
Orlene upgraded to a hurricane on Saturday, reaching maximum sustained winds up to 130 mph by early Sunday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported. The center of the storm is likely to pass over the archipelago of Las Islas Marias on Sunday evening or Monday morning, and Orlene is expected to make landfall on the coast of mainland Mexico near between San Blas and Mazatlan some time on Monday.
NHC labeled the storm as “extremely dangerous,” forecasting significant rain, storm surge and rainfall impacts in Islas Marias – a former prison colony being developed as a tourist draw – and other parts of southwest Mexico. A hurricane warning was in effect from San Blas to Mazatlan, and Mexico’s National Water Commission warned the storm could cause “mudslides, rising river and stream levels, and flooding in low-lying areas.”
The rainfall amounts in Islas Marias, Nayarit and Sinaloa “will likely lead to flash flooding, as well as possible landslides in areas of rugged terrain,” the center warned.
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The storm is expected to strengthen on Sunday before weakening as it approaches landfall, according to the center, but will likely remain a hurricane when it lands in Mexico.
Orlene is the season’s ninth eastern Pacific hurricane and the 16th named storm of the East Pacific hurricane season, according to Accuweather.
Compared to other recent hurricanes, including Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Maria, Orlene is a more compact storm: Hurricane-force winds extend out about 10 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds out to 60 miles. Hurricane Ian, which has devastated Florida, saw hurricane-force winds spanning 90 miles and tropical-storm-force winds expanding out to 350 miles, according to the National Weather Service in Key West.