It is being called the strongest hurricane in recorded history.
Hurricane Patricia is expected to make landfall in Mexico on Friday with winds over 320 kilometers per hour.
The National Weather Service says the powerful storm could be “potentially catastrophic” for southwestern Mexico. Officials say some areas could receive up to 51 centimeters of rainfall in the next few days.
Patricia is expected to reach the western coast of Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane. The National Hurricane Center says in a Category 5 hurricane, a high percentage of homes will be destroyed.
House tops will fail and walls will completely collapse. Fallen trees and power lines will leave residents without a means of leaving the area. They add that power outages will last for weeks or months, making most of the area uninhabitable.
The National Hurricane Center says at 11 a.m. Eastern Time Friday (-4 UTC), Hurricane Patricia was 200 kilometers southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, moving to the north at 16 kph.
CNN reported that Mexico's civil protection agency had set up 1,780 shelters. About 50,000 agents were ready in Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit alone. And 4,000 Mexican navy officers were sent to areas where Patricia is expected to cause the worst damage.
All flights to and from the airports in Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo were suspended.
Hurricane watches and warnings remain in effect for Mexico’s Pacific coast. A watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area within 48 hours.
Only one Category 5 hurricane has ever made landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast. That hurricane followed a path similar to that of Hurricane Patricia. It landed near Puerto Vallarta in October 1959, causing about 1,800 deaths.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Jonathan Evans wrote this story using reports from ABCNews, USAToday and The Weather Channel. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
collapse – v. to break apart and fall down suddenly
uninhabitable - adj. not safe or suitable to be lived in