MEXICO CITY • Hours after it barrelled into Mexico's Pacific coast as a Category One hurricane, Max was downgraded to a tropical storm threatening parts of the Mexican south-west with heavy rain.
The storm, still packing maximum sustained winds of 110kmh, was moving inland on Thursday over southern Mexico at approximately 13kmh, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
Situated about 130km east of Acapulco, Max was expected to weaken to a tropical depression in the evening but posed the threat of "torrential rain" over coastal areas of the south-western Guerrero state and neighbouring Oaxaca, which is still suffering the effects of a massive earthquake last week.
Max has triggered warnings of life-threatening conditions in areas hit by the devastating 8.2 quake last Thursday, which killed 96 people.
Guerrero state and western parts of Oaxaca state were forecast to receive 12.5cm to 25cm of rain, with some areas receiving more than 50cm. The NHC has warned that rainfall could cause "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides" in the region, where some 12,000 homes had already been damaged by the quake.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the agency warned earlier on Thursday. The local authorities have opened shelters to the population and shut down schools across the state.
Communities along a 480km stretch of coastline from Zihuatanejo to Punta Maldonado braced themselves as Max strengthened from a tropical storm to a hurricane in the early hours of Thursday on its way towards Mexico.
Oaxaca is still struggling to recover after it bore the brunt of the damage from last week's earthquake. Governor Alejandro Murat said on Monday that aid distribution following the quake was complicated because of the mountainous terrain.
Max was expected to bring a dangerous storm surge that will likely cause "significant" coastal flooding, accompanied by "large and destructive waves".
Mexico is one of the countries most vulnerable to hurricanes because of its thousands of kilometres of coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides and its proximity to the hurricane belt.