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Satellite animation of Hurricane Willa, spinning off the coast of Mexico as a Category 5 storm on October 22, 2018.

Hurricane Willa put on an astonishing display of rapid intensification over the weekend into Monday morning, going from a tropical depression to a Category 4 hurricane in just 48 hours and intensifying further into a Category 5 storm. By Monday afternoon, the storm had weakened slightly, back to a Category 4, but it is expected to hit Mexico's Pacific coast as a major hurricane of Category 3 or stronger by Wednesday.

Why it matters: While Hurricane Willa is likely to weaken slightly prior to making landfall, it will still be an extremely dangerous hurricane when it comes ashore, bringing an array of hazards including life-threatening storm surge at the coast, damaging winds, heavy rains that could be measured in feet and the potential for inland flooding as the storm crosses Mexico from west to east.

Details: Hurricane Willa is forecast to come ashore between Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta, sometime on Tuesday afternoon or evening. Computer models largely agree on the storm's track, but differ on its forward speed, the National Hurricane Center noted Monday.

Between the lines: Hurricane Willa is yet another tropical cyclone this year to undergo an extended period of rapid intensification, as the destructive Hurricanes Florence and Michael did in the Atlantic basin. Such storms may be becoming more common as the oceans and atmosphere warms in response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

  • Willa's maximum sustained winds increased by 55 mph in 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday, according to weather.com, and kept increasing from Sunday evening through Monday morning.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season is already setting records by at least one metric, known as the Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE, which measures storms' power and longevity.

  • According to data from Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, the 2018 season became the most active Eastern Pacific hurricane season on record, dating back to 1971, based on the ACE index. The previous record was set in 1992.
  • The cumulative ACE metric factors in the number, intensity and duration of each storm in a season. Long-lived, intense hurricanes have a high ACE index while short-lived, weak tropical storms have a low value.
  • The ACE of a season is the sum of the ACE for each storm, taking into account the number, strength and duration of all the tropical storms and hurricanes in the season.

My thought bubble: The active Eastern Pacific season may be related to a brewing El Niño, which features above-average ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Go deeper

47 mins ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

Senate Democrats unveil new income tax for billionaires

Sen. Ron Wyden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday released a billionaires' tax proposal, designed to help support President Biden's social spending and climate change legislation.

Why it matters: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Billionaires Income Tax would raise "hundreds of billions of dollars" and would affect approximately 700 taxpayers who have more than $1 billion in assets or incomes of over $100 million a year.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.