'Potentially catastrophic' Hurricane Willa takes aim at Mexico as a Category 4 storm

A NOAA/RAMMB satellite handout image, taken AT 5:30 UTC on Oct. 22, 2018, shows Hurricane Willa off Mexicos Pacific coast.PlayNOAA Handout/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH Hurricane Willa on track to slam into Mexico and then drench Texas

Hurricane Willa, a Category 4 storm, is taking aim at the Mexican coast and threatening to deliver life-threatening storm surge, wind and rain.

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Willa had strengthened to a powerful Category 5 storm Monday morning with 160 mph winds as the National Hurricane Center warned the storm was "potentially catastrophic" for Mexico.

Now weakened slightly, packing 155 mph winds, Willa is moving north toward the southwest Mexican coast.

(MORE: How to prepare for a hurricane and other key things to know)

The storm is expected to make landfall Tuesday evening as a Category 3.

The major resort area of Puerto Vallarta is under a tropical storm warning -- as it is expected to face gusty winds, heavy rain and some flooding -- but not under a hurricane warning, because the worst part of the storm is forecast to miss the popular vacation spot.

Hurricane Willa is bearing down on Mexico.ABC News
Hurricane Willa is bearing down on Mexico.

Willa is expected to hit an underpopulated region of Southwest Mexico, staying well north of Puerto Vallarta.

Dangerous storm surge may threaten the coasts of the Isla Marias and west-central and southwestern Mexico on Tuesday.

The heavy rain may bring flash flooding and landslides to much of southwestern and west-central Mexico.

Some regions could see up to 18 inches of rain.

The hurricane likely will bring tropical rain to the southern U.S.ABC News
The hurricane likely will bring tropical rain to the southern U.S.

Willa is then expected to weaken after passing over the Sierra Madre mountains, and the remnants of the storm will likely bring significant rainfall to Texas.

Some portions of southern and central Texas could see as much as 4 inches of rain this week.

Heavy rain also is possible in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Parts of Texas may see 4 inches of rain through Thursday.ABC News
Parts of Texas may see 4 inches of rain through Thursday.

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