Forecasters expect Hurricane Orlene to make landfall along Mexico's southwest coast on Monday. Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Hurricane Orlene was crawling toward Mexico's southwestern coast early Monday with expectations that it will make landfall later in the day.
Orlene, which formed early Thursday, was lashing Mexico's Las Islas Marias with hurricane conditions early Monday on its trek toward the Mexican mainland.
The storm is forecast to hit the Mexican mainland by Monday night.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 6 a.m. MDT update that the storm was located 45 miles south of Mexico's southwestern coastal city of Mazatlan and was crawling north at 9 mph while packing winds of 100 mph with higher gusts.
The storm has undergone weakening from Sunday morning when forecasters said it was a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph.
Now a Category 2 storm, Orlene is expected to further weaken Monday but is forecast to remain a hurricane when it reaches southwestern Mexico.
"Rapid weakening is forecast after Orlene moves onshore, and the system should dissipate on Tuesday," it said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Las Islas Marias and the coast of mainland Mexico from San Blas to Mazatlan.
Hurricane watches are in effect for the coast of mainland Mexico from Playa Perula to San Blas and the coast of mainland Mexico from Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya.
A hurricane watch and tropical storming warning have been discontinued for south of Punta Mita.
Orlene is the 16th named storm of the hurricane season and the ninth eastern Pacific hurricane. It is expected to quickly weaken after making landfall and dissipate by Tuesday.
Impacts to land began Friday night, when the outer rainbands of Orlene began to brush coastal areas of western Mexico.
"Widespread 2-4 inches of rain will be possible in the states of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua," AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DaSilva said.
Given the compact nature of Orlene, the heaviest rain from the storm is expected to target areas right along its path. In south-central Sinaloa, as well is in areas immediately south of Puerto Vallarta, rainfall amounts of 4-8 are expected, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 10 inches.
While these regions of Mexico are no strangers to rain, Orlene can unload close to a month's worth of rain in some areas over the course of just a few days. This level of rainfall can quickly lead to flash flooding concerns as well as the risk of mudslides in the higher terrain.
Mazatlán, Mexico, for example, typically records just over 6.50 inches of rain throughout September. Matazlán is expected to pick up widespread rainfall mounts of at least 2-4 inches as Orlene approaches and tracks near the area into the new week.
The worst impacts in Mexico from Orlene are set to arrive over the weekend as the cyclone takes a turn toward the coastline and begins its approach toward the country.
Widespread wind gusts of 40-60 mph are expected across portions of Durango, Nayarit and Jalisco. Stronger wind gusts of 60-80 mph are likely across a large swath of Sinaloa and portions of Durango.
A zone of gusts ranging up to 80-100 mph is even possible south of Mazatlan, Mexico along the coastline. Winds may be even higher in the Islas Marías, where an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 120 mph is possible.
Given the potential for heavy rainfall and damaging wind gusts, Orlene is a 1 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes in Mexico.
The last time a hurricane churned in the basin was back in early September when Hurricane Kay brought torrential rainfall to Mexico's Baja Peninsula and went on to cause significant flooding in portions of the far southwestern U.S.
While Orlene is set to take a much different track than Kay, forecasters say some moisture from the cyclone can creep into the Southwestern states over the next several days.
"The track of Orlene once it nears Mexico will influence how much - if any - of its moisture makes its way into the U.S.," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski cautioned.
Forecasters say the wind direction at the middle levels of the atmosphere will allow some moisture from Orlene to travel into portions of the Four Corners region as early as Sunday. This moisture can serve to enhance downpours in any thunderstorms that manage to develop across the region. Given the desert climate, any downpour can lead to dangerous flash flooding concerns.