Patricia, the strongest hurricane recorded ever, is closing on Mexico, as of Friday morning. It is marked as a Category 5 hurricane. Experts have issued warning saying that it could trigger 40-foot waves along Mexico’s coast and “life-threatening” flash flooding. Wind speeds are expected to touch and even cross 200 mph.
The Miami-based meteorological center, says that the potentially catastrophic landfall is expected in the afternoon or early evening. More than 7 million residents have been told to evacuate and prepare for the “worst-case scenario”. The tourist magnets of Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Manzanillo are directly in line of the storm’s projected path.
While typhoons Nancy and Violet had stronger estimated winds, Patricia is the strongest storm ever actually observed. The closest contender, at this point, might be Hurricane Camille when it battered the US Gulf Coast in 1969. However Patricia looks to be more powerful than that storm, Katrina of 2005, and Hurricane Andrew of 1992. It has already surpassed them in central pressure reading or weight of the air above a system.
Up to 20 inches of rain is predicted for the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero through Saturday. It is expected to pick up speed as it nears the coast, and is said to be maximum with landfall. There could be tornadoes and waterspouts as it moves inland.
However the hurricane will weaken when it reaches the Mexican mountains.
Mexican authorities have worked overtime to prepare for Patricia. President Enrique Pena Nieto has asked everyone to take immediate action.
Officials have alerted people along the coastal areas. They have been asked to move to shelters, and not to send their children to school. 1,780 shelters have been set up. A 50,000 strong force has been mobilized in Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit. 4,000 Mexican navy officers have been dispatched to areas that are likely to be the worst affected.
All flights to and from the airports in Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta are suspended.