Advertisement

Hurricane Patricia strongest ever to hit Pacific; 'Catastrophic' damage possible in Mexico

A Category 5 hurricane has not made landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast since October 1959 -- a storm that led to the deaths of 1,800 people.

By
Ed Adamczyk, Doug G. Ware and Shawn Price
This NOAA satellite image shows the eye of Hurricane Patricia on October 23, 2015. Patricia has became the most powerful hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere on Friday with maximum sustained winds reached an 200 mph. Patricia made landfall in Mexico Friday evening. Photo by NOAA/UPI
This NOAA satellite image shows the eye of Hurricane Patricia on October 23, 2015. Patricia has became the most powerful hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere on Friday with maximum sustained winds reached an 200 mph. Patricia made landfall in Mexico Friday evening. Photo by NOAA/UPI | License Photo

JALISCO, Mexico, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Mexico's Pacific coast took a precarious wallop Friday from the most powerful hurricane ever recorded there -- one that packed winds clocked around 200 mph as it bore down on the left side of the Yucatan Peninsula, forecasters said.

Hurricane Patricia has quickly grown from a tropical storm to the most powerful Pacific hurricane in history, meteorologists said. The National Weather Service said it might cause "catastrophic" damage upon its arrival on Mexico's Pacific coast Friday.

Advertisement

The storm connected with the Mexico coast late Friday afternoon, officials said.

"If there were a category six for hurricanes, this would be a category six," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a radio interview Friday. "It's a hurricane that hasn't been seen before, not just in Mexico, not just in the United States. It has wind speeds that are greater than the most intense, strongest hurricanes ever recorded on the planet."

The storm's wind speeds decreased a little, to 165 mph, upon making landfall Friday.

The NWS issued numerous advisories as the Category 5 hurricane fed off unusually warm ocean temperatures and whipped up sustained winds of 200 mph. Hurricane warnings, watches and tropical storm warnings were in effect for the country's entire northwestern coast.

Meteorologists expected the storm to make landfall in the Mexican state of Jalisco on Friday evening.

The latest animated infrared satellite image shows Hurricane Patricia looming off Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Patricia packed wind speeds nearing 200 mph Friday, forecasters said -- which are well above the minimum required for Category 5 status. It evolved into the strongest Pacific hurricane in history shortly after midnight Thursday.

Hurricane Patricia also holds the new record for lowest pressure of any hurricane on record, surpassing the previous mark set by Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

Heavy rainfall, destructive winds and large waves at sea were expected as Patricia neared Jalisco.

The resort city of Puerto Vallarta and Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara, are in the storm's path, officials said. Patricia is expected to deliver up to 20 inches of rain over the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero through Saturday.

This is the first time a Category 5 hurricane has posed an imminent threat to land in North America since Hurricane Felix threatened Nicaragua, in Central America, in September 2007, the Weather Channel said.

Forecasters said the storm might also bring widespread and severe damage when it reaches land. A storm surge is also expected to produce coastal flooding near the site where the hurricane comes ashore.

Officials also said hurricane-force winds extend out 30 miles from the storm's center and tropical storm-force winds reach out 175 miles.

Patricia is expected to weaken as it moves north and northeastward across western and northern Mexico. Then, forecasters said, large areas of Texas can expect up to a foot of rain as Patricia's remnants pass through Sunday and Monday.

The last time a Category 5 hurricane made contact with Mexico's Pacific coast was October 1959 -- a storm that led to the deaths of 1,800 people.

Latest Headlines