'A Nightmare Scenario': Hurricane Otis Slams Unprepared Acapulco

Oct 27, 2023

Categories of Hurricane

Hurricane Otis has left at least 27 dead and four missing in the Mexican city of Acapulco. It hit the country as a Category 5 storm. Most computer models forecast Otis to remain a much weaker storm. Instead, it intensified quickly. Those in its path had little time to prepare.

By the time it struck, it was the most powerful storm to ever hit Mexico.    

Most of Acapulco remained without power Thursday. Most lack access to running water or means of communication as well. The storm’s 165-mph sustained winds snapped power poles. It toppled buildings. Access for rescue workers was blocked. Footage showed many of the city's mansions and storefronts reduced to rubble. Some were flooded. Many in the city of 900,000 had to scramble to shelters or higher ground. 

"What Acapulco suffered was really disastrous," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said. “The people sheltered, protected themselves and that's why fortunately there weren't more tragedies, loss of human life."

On Monday night, forecasts for Otis said it would make landfall as a tropical storm. The forecast showed heavy rains and sustained winds of 60 mph. As Otis churned along the record-warm waters of the coast, it gained energy. It grew more quickly than any other Pacific storm ever observed.  

“Otis will be studied in the coming months and years to understand why it blew up so quickly,” meteorologist Matt Lanza told The Washington Post. “Forecasters utterly failed the people of Southern Mexico. We must do better.”  

Reflect: How do you think communities and governments can prepare for and respond to unexpected and severe natural disasters, and what challenges do they face in doing so?

Based on information in the infographic, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale takes only _______ into consideration when categorizing a storm. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. storm surge
b. fatalities
c. wind speed
d. property damage
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