MAZATLAN, Mexico – Hurricane Willa quickly lost power overnight, after storming the category 3 Pacific with 120 mph winds over a stretch of beach towns, fishing villages and farms on Mexico's Pacific coast. At 2 pm, the National Hurricane Center had downgraded Willa to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. At 5 o'clock in the morning, Willa was a tropical depression with upper sustained winds of 30 miles per hour.
The hurricane center said Willa was about 75 miles east-northeast of Durango, Mexico, racing northeast at 25 miles per hour.
The center predicted that the storm would completely collapse by mid-afternoon via West-Central and North Mexico. Nonetheless, it predicted "additional rainfall of 2 to 4 inches with maximum total values of 6 inches, which are possible from eastern Durango, northern Zacateca, and southern Coahuila."
"This rainfall will cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. The center warned.
Agency of the UNIVERSAL / RCC (GDA via AP Images )
Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli, a climate and weather researcher from CBS News,will cross the Gulf of Mexico, dropping heavy rains on parts of Texas and the already heavily hit southeast, and then merge with a cold front to form a mighty north easter that will hug the eastern coast from Virginia to New England.
The damage done by Willa in Mexico was scant at night due to darkness and poor communication, but federal officials said the power had been knocked down in some places and there were early reports of weak structures with tin roofs getting damaged.
Before reaching the mainland near Isla del Bosque, Willa swept through an offshore penal colony about 60 miles in the Pacific. The authorities refused to comment on precautionary measures in prison, citing security concerns, but occupant safety was a priority.
Willa came ashore about 50 miles southeast of Mazatlan, a vacation city with skyscrapers and hotels 500,000 people, many of them American and Canadian expatriates.
Although hotels, restaurants and shops were boarded, people ventured out on Mazatlan's coastal boulevard to watch a spectacular sunset as the hurricane obscured the sky to the south.
Alberto Hernandez, a hotel worker in the city of Teacapan, near the place where the storm landed, expressed his confidence before it arrived that the building would stop. He and his son, who also works at the hotel, stayed at work, even though the rest of his family had left the area.
"We had rained all day, there is no one on the streets, everything is closed," said Hernandez. "But not everyone wanted to leave, even though the authorities made it clear that the one who stays is at his own risk."
Torrential rains began in the afternoon, and security officials said they had evacuated more than 4,250 people in coastal towns and erected 58 shelters before the dangerous storm. The schools were closed.
When Willa approached, the beach in Mazatlan had almost disappeared, and the waves were bouncing on the coastal boulevard under black clouds. A few surfers enjoyed the big waves, while the roads on land were almost deserted, except for workers who went up windows in hotels, shops and houses.
Some families took shelter at the Mazatlan Convention Center and spread blankets along the walls of Storm.