MEXICO CITY – Newly formed Hurricane Willa rapidly intensified off Mexico’s Pacific coast Sunday and early Monday and became a major Category 4 storm on the brink of turning into a Category 5, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. As of 4 a.m. CST., Wilma had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph — just 2 mph short of a Category 5.

Even at Category 4, Willa is “extremely dangeorus,” forecasters warned, adding that it was likely to strengthen slightly into a Category 5 Monday morning.

The NHC said it could make landfall along Mexico’s southwestern coast Tuesday night or Wednesday morning and bring with it a life-threatening storm surge — especially near and to the south of where the center of Willa makes landfall. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Willa is also forecast to bring high winds and heavy rainfall.

“While some weakening is forecast by tonight and Tuesday, Willa is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it
reaches the coast of Mexico late Tuesday or early Wednesday,” the center said.

In its latest advisory, the NHC said Willa was about 230 miles south of Las Islas Marias, Mexico and some 175 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, and was moving north at about  7 mph.

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