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Willa Weakens To Tropical Depression, Moves Inland Over Western Mexico

Photo caption: Mexican Marines guard a shelter in Escuinapa, Sinaloa state on Tuesday.

Photo by Alfredo Estrella AFP/Getty Images

Mexican Marines guard a shelter in Escuinapa, Sinaloa state on Tuesday.

Updated 5 a.m. ET

A weakened Willa has been downgraded to a tropical depression after landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in Western Mexico, even as "life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall" persists in the region, the National Hurricane Center says.

The storm came ashore near Isla del Bosque, Sinaloa, at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday with maximum winds of 120 mph. Those winds have weakened to just 35 mph, according to the NHC's 5 a.m. ET update. The storm is currently about 75 miles northeast of Mexico's midwestern state of Durango, moving north at 25 mph.

Willa was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm to a tropical depression in a matter of hours. Continued rapid weakening is forecast into midday Wednesday. The NHC anticipates the storm will dissipate by Wednesday afternoon.

Following landfall, an "extremely dangerous" storm surge was reported in parts of Mexico's southwestern coast in the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit. Directly along the coast, the surge is accompanied by "large, destructive" waves, the NHC says.

The Hurricane Center says the storm surge will gradually subside Wednesday morning.

"Rainfall associated with Willa will continue to diminish today as the depression weakens," the agency says. Eastern Durango, northern Zacateca and southern Coahuila can still expect 2 to 6 inches, which will cause "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides."

The Associated Press reports power blackouts in some areas, and damage to flimsy structures with tin roofs. "Damage assessments were limited by darkness and disrupted communications, and no extensive information was expected until morning," the news agency reports.

Mexico's government has discontinued a hurricane warning for Las Islas Marias, an archipelago that is home to about 1,000 residents and thousands more federal prisoners.

Hurricane warnings remain in effect for 180 miles of Mexican Pacific coast between San Blas and Mazatlán. The government of Mexico has discontinued all coastal tropical cyclone warnings.

The storm is forecast to become a rainmaker for northern Mexico and Texas on Wednesday.

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