MIAMI, Oct. 23 (UPI) — Hurricane Patricia has grown in about 24 hours from a tropical storm to the most powerful Western Hemisphere hurricane in recorded history, meteorologists said.
The National Hurricane Center issued an advisories as the Category 5 hurricane headed for the West Coast of Mexico, feeding off unusually warm ocean temperatures, and whipping up sustained winds of 200 mph.
A Friday advisory said the worst conditions were expected in the afternoon and evening as the hurricane turns northeast and reaches its expected landfall between the towns of San Blas and Punta San Telmo. Hurricane warnings, hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings were in effect for all of northwestern Mexico’s coast.
Patricia is slowly moving northward at 12 mph.
The NHC also recorded by far the lowest pressure ever measured in a Pacific hurricane. Meanwhile, the 200 mph winds are well beyond the 157 mph threshold to qualify as a Category 5 storm.
“Patricia is estimated to have intensified [100 mph] in the past 24 hours,” the NHC advisory said. “This is a remarkable feat, with only Linda of 1997 intensifying at this rate in the satellite era.”
Patricia will still be at Category 5 strength when it reaches the coastline of the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit later Friday. Resort city Puerto Vallarta to Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, are in the storm’s path. It is expected to dump up to 20 inches of rain over the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero through Saturday.
The rain could produce floods and mudslides. A storm surge is also expected to produce coastal flooding near the site where the hurricane reaches landfall, and ocean surf will likely cause rip current conditions.
The monster hurricane will bring catastrophic winds as well as flooding, massive storm surge and big, powerful waves onshore. Forecasters say hurricane-force winds extend out 30 miles from the storm’s center and tropical storm-force winds reach out 175 miles.
It is expected to weaken as it moves north and northeastward across western and northern Mexico. Then, large areas of Texas can expect up to a foot of rain as Patricia’s remnants pass through Sunday and Monday.
October 1959 was the last time a Category 5 hurricane slammed Mexico’s west coast. That storm killed 1,800 people.