The WILLA effect: Mazatlán proved itself ready


VIDAMAZ one of the most important and known websites by Expats in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, came up with an article in which they tell how the “Pearl of the Pacific” faced hurricane Willa. The Mazatlan Post asked for their authorization to use the content and describe this interesting historic event, which proved that our beloved Puerto de Mazatlán, is ready to take on the threats of these gigantic (and everytime more frequent) cyclones, generated by global warming and climate change. 

The port of Mazatlán proved itself ready, willing and able to endure such a major threat as a Category 4 (or 5) hurricane may be. It was encouraging to see the businesses and homes boarded up, sandbags in place, taped windows to try and prevent flying shards of broken glass and people preparing for the worst case scenario without panic or paranoia, but fully aware of the seriousness of the situation.


The morning after Hurricane Willa

Many people remember how during Hurricane Lane (Cat 3, 2006) and Tropical Storm Rick (2009), there ws a total lack of safety precautions: people not taking down billboards or boarding up windows, surfers pursuing their passion even during the storm, locals unaware of the flooding dangers, and not knowing where to take shelter.

But not this time, this time people had maps of potential flood areas and shelters, lists of items to have at home, and regular updates regarding the weather and evacuations.

We’ve come a long way since 2009. Commercial activity was ordered stopped at 2:00 pm on Tuesday (so people could get home to their families), and public transportation stopped the same day at 3:00 pm.

Protección Civil evacuated the remaining tourists and residents from flood zones to the Convention Center. And most importantly, people took the threat seriously. Of course, Willa quickly became a Cat. 5 hurricane, which was extremely intimidating.


Fortunately, Mazatlán was spared of Willa’s wrath; but not those south in Escuinapa, Teacapán and Agua Verde, they were not so lucky and these people need our aid.

El Rosario and other places needed to be evacuatetd due to potential river flooding.

Mazatlán experienced very high tides and incredible beach erosion. There was very little rain or wind, fortunately. Most of the damage was observed in the palapas on the beach, and on the beaches themselves. Even without a hurricane our sandy beaches regularly move, so most mazatlecos consider ourselves incredibly blessed.

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 it is a panoramic of the full rainbow. Of course all the memes circulating on social networks 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 of the state.

You can drop off your donations at one of the many Centros de Acopio around town, including the Soriana Híper on Rafael Buelna.

The virgin has already been showered with flowers, as you can see in this photo by my friend Jessica Aviles.



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