The Newest: Willa weakens to tropical despair

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MAZATLAN, Mexico – The Latest on Hurricane Willa (all times local):

5:45 a.m.

Once-mighty Hurricane Willa has weakened into a tropical depression as it moves rapidly over west-central Mexico.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) early Wednesday and was centered about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east-northeast of Durango while moving briskly to the northeast at 25 mph (41 kph).

Forecasters said it can still bring 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain to areas along its path in northern Mexico.

Once a Category 5 hurricane in the Pacific, Willa was at Category 3 force when it hit the coast of Sinaloa state Tuesday evening.

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2:40 a.m.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Willa has weakened to a tropical storm but torrential rains will continue in west-central Mexico.

The meteorologists said Wednesday that Willa is moving toward the northeast at speeds near 20 mph (32 kph), movement expected to continue during the next 12 hours.

The Hurricane Center added that the government of Mexico has discontinued all coastal tropical cyclone warnings for the country.

Willa came ashore about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Mazatlan, a resort city that is home to high-rise hotels and about 500,000 people, including many U.S. and Canadian expatriates.

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10 p.m

Hurricane Willa began losing power overnight after roaring over a stretch of beach towns, fishing villages and farms on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Sinaloa state as a Category 3 storm.

Damage assessments were scanty during the night because of darkness and poor communications, but federal officials said power had been knocked out in some spots and there were early reports of flimsy structures with tin roofs sustaining damage.

Before hitting the mainland near Isla del Bosque with 120 mph (195 kph) winds Tuesday night, Willa swept over an offshore penal colony about 60 miles (100 kilometers) out in the Pacific.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm’s forward movement had sped up to 17 mph (28 kph) late Tuesday and it was expected to rapidly weaken. It warned, however, that the storm could still cause heavy rains in portions of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa states, with flash flooding and landslides possible in mountainous areas.

Willa came ashore about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Mazatlan, a resort city that is home to high-rise hotels and about 500,000 people, including many U.S. and Canadian expatriates.

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