Hurricane Jova strengthened to a major, Category 3 hurricane on Monday, and it is advancing towards Mexico’s Pacific coast, endangering the idyllic beach resort of Barra de Navidad and one of the country’s biggest cargo ports.
Jova’s maximum sustained winds slowed a bit to near 120 mph (205 kph) late Monday, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami warned that there could be further fluctuations in the coming hours. The center also pointed out that Jova was expected to be a major hurricane as its center neared the coastline Tuesday afternoon or evening.
The forecast track would carry its center near Barra de Navidad, south of the larger resort of Puerto Vallarta.Hotels in the hurricane’s path were already taking precautions, though the sun continued to shine from time to time. Almost all the guests at the 199-room Grand Bay Hotel on Isla Navidad, just off the coast, were scheduled to check out Monday, and only one American couple planned to ride out the storm, hotel desk clerk Julio Cesar Ortega said.
Hotel employees taped up windows, cleaned out water channels to avoid flooding and pulled in all beach furniture. The hotel’s approximately 90 employees plan to take shelter in an interior ballroom if things get ugly.
The Mexican government declared a hurricane warning for a 100-mile (160-kilometer) stretch of coast from just south of Puerto Vallarta to a point south of Manzanillo, one of Mexico’s chief cargo ports. A tropical storm warning was in effect farther south, to the port of Lazaro Cardenas.
In Puerto Vallarta, rain began to fall Monday, and passing buses splashed curtains of water as they passed.
Rafael Colmenares stood on a porch at the shore, watching the ocean with a beer in his hand. The 49-year-old waiter’s house was flooded when Category 4 Hurricane Kenna struck the coast farther north in 2002, killing four people.