Early Friday morning, Hurricane Partricia became “the strongest storm ever measured on the planet.” Creating winds of over 200 miles an hour, the Category 5 storm is projected to make landfall somewhere between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. Nearly 7 million people have been told that they should “expect the worst-case scenario.”
Meteorologist Bill Karins predicted that Hurricane Patricia would be the worst storm ever to hit Mexico, saying that “catastrophic damage” is likely. Waves of up to 40 feet and flash flooding threaten the area, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center described Patricia as the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific Basins.
Two hundred mile an hour winds are no joke. An F5 tornado–one where “strong frame houses [are] leveled off foundations and swept away; automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters (109 yds); trees debarked; incredible phenomena will occur,” according to the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale–is one with winds over 201 miles and hour. Of course, those winds will be confined mainly to Hurricane Patricia’s eye, but hurricane-force winds will extend much further out.
For comparison, Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines with devastating force back in 2013, had winds of 190 mph. Hurricane Patricia is shaping up to top that record. Since real records keeping track of these things back in the late 1940s, it will only be the second Category 5 hurricane to make landfall, the first of which struck in 1959 and killed nearly 2000 people.
Our best wishes to those facing the oncoming storm. We’ll have more updates as they become available.