Hurricane Otis surprised forecasters with winds intensifying by 110 miles per hour in the last 24 hours before making landfall near Acapulco at about 1 a.m. local time last night. This brought the storm ashore as a Category 4/5 storm with wind, waves, storm surge and rain all severely impacting the city of about 900,000 (about the size of San Francisco). It is home to the Club de Yates de Acapulco, founded in 1955 and the site of the 1968 Olympic sailing competition, where Lowell North and Peter Barrett won a gold in the Star class. The Club de Yates de Acapulco is a very active sailing center, with a regular challenge regatta with the San Diego Yacht Club in Farr 40s. It is also the home of the Volvo Ocean 65 Viva Mexico that competed in the recent Ocean Race with skipper Erik Brockmann.
The sequence below from Zoom Earth shows the course and rapidly increasing wind speeds from Hurricane Otis just before landfall.
Reports on X (Twitter) and in news outlets such as the New York Times have reported that the storm’s rapid intensification caught forecasters off guard. When it first started to form on Sunday morning, many did not see it growing significantly or becoming a real threat. The National Hurricane Center stated that “some strengthening” was possible. Words like unprecedented and uncharted territory keep coming up, as forecasters and the world grapple with the impacts of a changing climate on weather models developed from years of analysis based on historical data.
Communications are out in Acapulco, so at present there is no ability to understand the impact of the storm. The rapidly growing storm will have had a severe impact on the Club de Yates and all the people of Acapulco.
Hurricanes of this scale remain rare but, of course, not unheard of. Hurricane Odile, which hit Baja in 2014, was one of the most damaging ever recorded, and Hurricane Manuel, which hit to the north of Acapulco in 2013, is the most expensive recorded on the west coast of Mexico.