Hurricane Willa has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm as it heads toward the Mexican coast, according to the Associated Press.
With maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, Willa is expected to weaken somewhat before hitting land late Tuesday. Although it is expected to lose strength, it is still likely to be an extremely dangerous hurricane.
"Slight weakening is forecast to begin on Tuesday, but Willa is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico," the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Monday.
It's located about 135 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes and is heading north board the Mexican coast south of the popular vacation city Mazatlan at 7 mph.
The newly formed hurricane is "potentially catastrophic," according to forecasters. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that it could make landfall along Mexico's southwestern coast Tuesday afternoon or evening — bringing with it a life-threatening storm surge, which will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Heavy rainfall and high winds are also expected.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the center warned residents living on Mexico's coast between San Blas and Mazatlan.
The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close Monday and begin preparing emergency shelters. Nayarit's government buildings were also closed.
Hurricane-force winds can be expected outward of up to 30 miles from the center of the storm; tropical-storm-force winds can extend outward of up to 105 miles.
Six to 12 inches of total rainfall accumulations are expected, forecasters predict, with up to 18 inches across portions of western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa in Mexico. The heavy rain could cause life-threatening flash floods and landslides.
Inland, 2 to 4 inches of rainfall is expected across portions of Zacateca, Durgango, southeast Chihuahua and Coahuila in Mexico. Those rains could also cause life-threatening flash flooding.
A hurricane warning has been issued along Mexico's west coast. A small archipelago island chain called Islas Marias, which holds nature reserves and a high-security federal prison, is particularly in danger.
On Sunday, the hurricane center said that Willa is projected to "produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday."
After Willa hits Mexico, it could drop between 1 to 3 inches of rain on central and southern Texas in the middle of the week, according to CBS News meteorologist Jeff Berardelli. The additional rainfall could cause flooding in already saturated areas.