Hurricane Willa


Sunset over the malecón pre-Willa

Mazatlán proved itself ready; it was encouraging to see. Businesses and homes boarded themselves up and put sandbags in place. Most everyone taped over windows to try and prevent flying shards of broken glass.


The morning after Hurricane Willa

We lived here during Hurricane Lane (Cat 3, 2006) and Tropical Storm Rick (2009), and remember what I felt was a lack of safety precautions then: people not taking down billboards or boarding up windows, surfers pursuing their passion even during the storm, people unsure of flood areas and where to take shelter. This time around there were maps of potential flood areas and shelters, lists of items to have at the ready, and regular updates regarding the weather and evacuations. We’ve come a long way. Commercial activity was ordered stopped at 2:00 pm on Tuesday (so people could get home to their families), and public transportation to stop at 3:00 pm. Protección Civil evacuated some tourists and residents from flood zones to the Convention Center. Most importantly to me, people took the threat seriously. Of course, Willa quickly became a Cat 5 hurricane, which was extremely intimidating.


Fortunately we in Mazatlán were spared Willa’s wrath; those south of us, in Escuinapa, Teacapán and Agua Verde, were not so lucky and need our aid. And today they are evacuating El Rosario and other places due to potential river flooding. Here we experienced very high tides and incredible beach erosion. There was very little rain or wind, fortunately. Most of the damage I have observed is with the palapas on the beach, and with the beaches themselves. Even without a hurricane our sandy beaches regularly move, so most mazatlecos consider ourselves incredibly blessed. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.


The day before Willa was scheduled to arrive, there was a double rainbow over Mazatlán. The photo below doesn’t show the second one that well, as I did a panoramic of the full rainbow. Of course all the memes circulating said this was God’s way of telling Mazatlán it would be safe.


The evening before Willa’s arrival we had one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve seen in my 11 years living here full time. The sky and the ocean were orange for as far as the eye could see. The huge waves crashing with their orange color was a sight to behold!


Then, the day Willa was supposed to arrive, Tuesday, there was a second double rainbow. God wanted to be really sure we felt safe. We in Mazatlán are blessed with a bay sheltered both by the Baja Peninsula and by our three islands. There is a legend about how the three islands were formed after the death of three indigenous sisters, and another legend about how we are protected by “Our Lady of the Port.” So, once we dodged the bullet, so to speak, everyone thanked the Virgin of the Port—you can find her in the parking lot of La Puntilla restaurant in Playa Sur, if you’d like to pay your respects.


Thank you, God of the seas and the skies. Thank you, Virgen de la Puntilla. Thank you, three sisters in our bay. Let us use our gratitude to share drinking water, food, toilet paper, moist towels, diapers, toothpaste, flashlights and batteries for our friends to the south. You can drop off your donations at one of the many Centros de Acopio around town, including the Soriana Híper on Rafael Buelna today. And you can also join in a peregrinación of thanksgiving to the virgin today (Wednesday) starting at Hogar San Pablo at 4:00 pm, concluding with a Mass at 5:00. The virgin has already been showered with flowers, as you can see in this photo by my friend Jessica Aviles.


La Virgen de la Puntilla hoy, miércoles, foto tomada por Jessica Aviles

About Dianne Hofner Saphiere

There are loads of talented people in this gorgeous world of ours. We all have a unique contribution to make, and if we collaborate, I am confident we have all the pieces we need to solve any problem we face. I have been an intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant since 1979, working primarily with for-profit multinational corporations. I lived and worked in Japan in the late 70s through the 80s, and currently live in and work from México, where with a wonderful partner we've raised a bicultural, global-minded son. I have worked with organizations and people from over 100 nations in my career. What's your story?

3 thoughts on “Hurricane Willa

  1. Pingback: The WILLA effect: Mazatlán proved itself ready | The Mazatlán Post

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