The Category 4 storm is set to slam into holiday hotspots like Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan later today.
Those in its path have been warned the raging tempest will bring colossal waves, 150mph winds, possible flash floods and even waterspouts – also known as sea tornadoes.
And authorities are taking no chances, urging thousands to flee before it’s too late.
Antonio Echevarria, governor of Nayarit, said more than 10,000 people were being evacuated and schools would be closed.
He said: "Let's not play the macho. Let's not act like superheroes. It's a very strong hurricane, very potent, and we don't want any tragedies."
A decree of "extraordinary emergency" was issued for 19 municipalities in Nayarit and Sinaloa states, the federal Interior Department announced.
Among the areas expected to be worst hit is Puerto Vallarta, where hotels near the resort’s famous sandy beaches have been ordered to get guests to safety.
Mayor Arturo Dávalos told Vallarta Daily: “We’re asking the hotels that are in the tourist strip to evacuate tourists and staff from now on to avoid some misfortune.”
Bars and restaurants in the area are closing and all activities and excursions are being cancelled.
Businesses have also been asked to remove sunbeds, umbrellas and other objects from beach to stop them becoming deadly “projectiles” in the powerful winds, the website reported.
Several other tourist getaways in Nayarit also lie near the path of the storm, which is forecast to bring a "life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall," the NHC said.
Elsewhere, in Mazatlan, staff boarded up hotels facing the historic downtown boardwalk.
Forecast to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to enter Mexico from the Pacific in recent years, Willa is expected to strike just a few miles south of the city.
At a petrol station on the outskirts, a steady line of cars have been queuing up to refuel and pick up supplies at the neighbouring shop.
Station attendant Zulema Pardo said residents had been streaming through for hours to stock up on basic items, buying enormous jugs of water and fuel, and leaving the bread shelf completely empty.
She said: "People are really scared. People are crazy and worked up."
Late on Monday the storm was advancing about 80 miles west of the Marias islands opposite Nayarit in Sinaloa, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
Willa was blowing maximum sustained winds of near 150 miles per hour on Monday night, the hurricane centre said.
Up to 18ins of rainfall could pummel the storm zone, the centre added.
Even buildings up to 1,640ft from the coastline could lose power and suffer physical damage, Mexico's National Meteorological Service warned.
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