Meteorologists, Visitors Keeping Close Eye on Hurricane Willa

PUERTO VALLARTA -- Meteorologists at the University of California, Davis worry Hurricane Willa could be a devastating storm, and a local woman vacationing in Puerto Vallarta is just hoping for the best.

"It's a very touristy area," Alex Mazerolle told FOX40 over Skype. "There's a lot of resorts in this area."

Mazerolle, originally from Marysville, and her friends picked an unfortunate time to vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Hurricane Willa strengthened overnight to a Category 5 storm, before downgrading to Category 4 late Monday afternoon.

"It was raining a little bit earlier but it’s pretty wet outside, but everything is pretty calm, even the water looks pretty calm. But definitely at the resort you can tell some of the staff are on edge a little bit," Mazerolle said.

Willa was expected to make landfall later Monday or early Tuesday.

“It’s going to be windy, that’s for sure. I can’t imagine there’s going to be a whole lot of storm surge, not like we saw with Michael, for instance," Paul Ullrich, associate professor of regional climate modeling at UC Davis, told FOX40.

Ullrich says it's unusual how fast Willa grew.

"This is a phenomenon associated with hurricanes known as rapid intensification and it’s not particularly well understood," he said.

Local Red Cross volunteers say they’re ready to help in the recovery efforts but, so far, the Mexican government has not asked for assistance.

“You know if they have the manpower and the financial resources to get the job done, then, no, we will not receive that request," Gold Country Red Cross spokesman Stephen Walsh said.

Meanwhile, Mazerolle says her airline has sent out warnings that her flight on Thursday could be canceled.

Ullrich says hurricanes are common in the Pacific but not typically this far north because the water is much cooler. Willa is one of the northernmost Pacific hurricanes on record, but Ullrich believes they could be more common if as climate change persists.