Hurricane Patricia, one of the most powerful storms on record, has made landfall in Mexico’s Pacific coast on October 23, with estimated winds of 270kph, tearing down trees and forcing thousands of people to flee homes and beachfront resorts. TV reports showed the storm struck Cuixmala in the southwestern state of Jalisco, bringing with it torrential rains and raging winds
, and toppled cars and buses and flooded streets.
However, Patricia has calmed to a Category 1 storm (74-95mph), with maximum wind speeds of 75 mph. There were no reports of causalities.
The Associated Press reported that Patricia is “expected to dissipate over Mexico’s inland mountains, becoming a tropical storm. Its center was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Zacatecas.”
“Patricia’s projected path headed over a mountainous region dotted with isolated hamlets that are at risk for dangerous mudslides and flash floods, and where communications can be sketchy.”
Hurricane Patricia as seen from space. The Telegraph
The storm prompted mass evacuation in Puerto Vallarta and other areas along Mexico’s coast, with forecasters predicting that it could bring dangerous flash flooding and mudslides.
In a televised message to country, President Enrique Pena Nieto said the first reports confirm that the damage has been less than those expected from a hurricane of this magnitude.
However, he urged Mexicans to remain alert as the storm still poses a threat. Fearing large scale causalities, Mexican authorities had earlier declared a state of emergency for 56 municipalities. Although officials have evacuated as many people as possible, the devastation will be visible once the storm passes given that many homes in coastal villages are made of wood or dry mud.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has said the storm was the strongest ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, and the World Meteorological Organisation compared it to 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Patricia is also expected to bring heavy rains to Texas — and Houston — after it crosses through Mexico.
Heavy rains that brought a flood threat to northern and central parts of the state are expected to spread into South Texas. Ten million people in Texas have been warned of flash floods as the weather system mixes with a local cyclone.