Hurricane Jova is set to hit the west coast Mexican resort town of Barra de Navidad by Tuesday morning.
Jova is currently a category three storm, with winds reaching upwards of 125 miles per hour on Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Officials have warned that Jova could intensify before hitting Mexico, making it one of the most-powerful storms of the 2011 season.
Hurricane Irene, which battered the East Coast of the United States in August and caused about $10 billion in damages, reached a maximum speed of 120 miles per hour.
The severity of a tropical cyclone/hurricane is labeled according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which grades according to wind speed and storm surge. Surge is the essentially the height of a wave, or the measured rise of water due to the storm. The Saffir-Simpson system does not take into account the physical size of a storm, nor the amount of precipitation.
“Although some fluctuations in intensity are possible until landfall, Jova is expected to be a major hurricane when it reaches the southwestern coast of Mexico,” U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its advisory.
As Jova moves across and up the Mexican coastline, it is expected to die down, and could be a tropical storm by Friday morning. While less severe than a hurricane, heavy rains could have a significant impact on on Mexico and the border areas by Texas.
By 2 p.m. Eastern Time, Jova was about 200 miles away from Manzanillo, Mexico in the state of Colima. Manzanillo, which is about halfway down Mexico's Pacific coast, is the second busiest port in Mexico. The city closed the port on Monday, and at least 100 shelters were opened in case people need to leave their homes.
The Mexican government has also issued a warning for number of areas, including Punta San Telmo, Cabo Corrientes,Lazaro Cardenas and Punta San Telmo.
The biggest threat to Mexican citizens at this point is the storm surge, and raised seas could incite “life-threatening” floods in coastal cities.
The rainfall will be absolutely torrential, National Hurricane Center forecaster Felix Garcia told UKPA.
So far, storm-trackers think the storm will dissolve over the states of Durango and Chihuahua. Chihuahua sits on the Mexico-Texas border, but thunderstorms in the area are expected to dissipate by Tuesday evening. Both California and Texas should be safe from storm damage.
But, as Jova passes it will be followed by Tropical Storm Irwin, which is moving toward the southern tip of Baja California but is losing intensity as it approaches Mexico.
Jova's and Irwin's path is unusual and only two hurricanes have made perpendicular landfall near Colima in the past 150 years, according to World Weather Post.
The only other serious hurricane to hit the area was the 1959 Mexico Hurricane which started moving parallel to Mexico from the south before taking a right at Colima and moving inland. The category-5 hurricane killed over 1,000 people.