Hurricane Orlene strengthens into Category 3 storm as it heads toward western Mexico


Rapidly intensifying Category 3 Hurricane Orlene is approaching western Mexico, where it’s expected to cause life-threatening flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, was churning north at 5 mph Sunday morning about 205 miles south of Las Islas Marias, Mexico, the center said.

Orlene is projected to reach the coast of mainland Mexico Monday or Monday night, making landfall just south of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, where life-threatening flash flooding is a concern, according to Mexico’s CONAGUA Agency.

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Hurricane conditions are expected by Sunday night in Islas Marias, with tropical storm conditions beginning earlier in the day.

Orlene’s wind speed increased by 35 mph within a 12-hour period, forecasters said.

“Some additional strengthening is forecast through this morning, followed by weakening beginning later today and continuing until landfall,” the hurricane center said early Sunday.

The storm is expected produce heavy downpours, which could lead to life-threatening flash flooding and landslides in western Mexico. Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa could see nearly six inches of rain Sunday into Monday.

Strong winds between 37 and 43 mph and wave heights of 2 to 4 meters are also a threat.

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A hurricane warning is in effect for Las Islas Marias and the coast of mainland Mexico from San Blas to Mazatlán. A hurricane watch is in effect for the coast of mainland Mexico from Playa Perula to San Blas and from Mazatlán to Bahia Tempehuaya, including the city of Puerto Vallarta.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of mainland Mexico from Playa Perula to San Blas. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of mainland Mexico from Manzanillo to Playa Perula.

Residents in the hurricane’s path are being advised to take extreme precautions due to the potential for life-threatening flooding, wind and dangerous rip currents.

Orlene is barreling towards Mexico just weeks after Hurricane Kay made landfall in Mexico, along the west coast of the central Baja California Peninsula, as a Category 1 hurricane.

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