NEW: Emergency officials open shelters and position troops ahead of Jova
Hurricane Jova is maintaining its strength as it moves toward Mexico
Storm could become a major hurricane by Monday night or Tuesday, forecasters say
The storm is moving slowly toward the western coast of Mexico
Emergency officials in Mexico are opening shelters and coordinating with local governments ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Jova, authorities said Sunday.
At least 100 shelters were open Sunday for people who could be affected by the storm, according to Trinidad Lopez, civil protection director in the state of Jalisco. Food, cots and blankets have been distributed, he said.
Heavy machinery has also been pre-positioned in strategic locations throughout the state, according to Lopez. Mexico is providing federal assistance, as well. More than 300 soldiers have been deployed and the Marines in Puerto Vallarta are on alert, Lopez said.
“Our main concern is the welfare of the population,” Lopez told CNN. “We’re doing everything in our power to protect people.”
Hurricane Jova maintained its strength Sunday as it inched toward western Mexico, with forecasters warning that it would intensify over the next two days.
The Category 1 storm was about 280 miles (455 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was moving east at about 8 mph, and was expected to turn east-northeast on Monday, followed by a turn toward the northeast early Tuesday.
Jova carried maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.
“Strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours, and Jova could become a major hurricane by Monday night or Tuesday,” the center said in an advisory Sunday.
A hurricane watch is in effect from Punta San Telmo north to Cabo Corrientes, Mexico.
A tropical storm watch is in effect in an area near Punta San Elmo, stretching south toward Lazaro Carenas.
Mexico’s National Meteorological Service warned boaters off the country’s Pacific coast to prepare for increasing rains, waves and winds.
The states of Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit will likely see significant precipitation, the meteorological service said.