A 2023 hurricane caught Mexico off guard: we must work together to prepare better

Nature. Vol. 628. 4 de abril de 2024. pp. 33-35.
DOI: 10.1038/d41586-024-00904-0

When Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco on the Pacific coast of Mexico on 25 October 2023, it had developed much more quickly and taken a different course than predicted. It damaged an area covering nearly 700 hectares, home to around 560,000 people (see go.nature.com/499dwgy). A preliminary assessment suggests that reconstruction could cost between US$14 billion and $21 billion (see go.nature.com/3pkbvav).

The hurricane’s impact exposed a lack of readiness from the Mexican government’s National Civil Protection System, local authorities, emergency response agencies and the private sector (particularly the tourism industry); this lack of preparedness affected a large part of the local population.

It also laid bare the structural and socio-economic vulnerabilities that prevail in the country. Years of uneven development and territorial planning have led to the formation of settlements that are particularly at risk from natural hazards and in which the poorest communities are systematically the most vulnerable. As extreme weather events increase in frequency and intensity, so does the need for communities to be better prepared — and better repaired.