Hurricane Patricia ‘potentially catastrophic’, experts warn

Published: Friday 23rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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Hurricane Patricia has strengthened into a “potentially catastrophic” Category 5 storm as it heads for Mexico’s Central Pacific Coast.

The US National Hurricane Centre said Patricia’s maximum sustained winds had grown to 160mph and officials declared a state of emergency and handed out sandbags in preparation for flooding.

The storm was located about 200 miles south west of Mexico’s port of Manzanillo and was moving north west at 13mph on a projected track to come onshore between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta some time today.

Some weakening was forecast before then, but the hurricane centre said it would still be “extremely dangerous” when it made landfall.

Steady rain began to fall after dark in Manzanillo and Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s civil defense co-ordinator, said schools would be closed in Colima state.

“We are calm,” said Gabriel Lopez, a worker at Las Hadas Hotel in the city.

“We don’t know what direction (the storm) will take, but apparently it’s headed this way. If there is an emergency we will take care of the people. There are rooms that are not exposed to wind or glass.”

The US hurricane centre in Miami, Florida, warned that preparations should be rushed to completion, saying the storm could cause coastal flooding, destructive waves and flash floods.

“This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” centre meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

Luz Adriana Limon Rojas of Colima state’s civil defence agency said the area had problems with drainage during storms. “The neighborhood leaders have come for sacks to fill with sand,” she said.

The government declared a state of emergency for 56 districts in the storm’s projected path, in the states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco.

By this morning, British time, Patricia’s maximum sustained winds had increased to 160mph – a Category 5 storm – the highest designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to quantify a hurricane’s wind strength.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the Mexican coast from San Blas to Punta San Telmo, a stretch of coast that includes Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. A broader area was under hurricane watch, tropical storm warning, or tropical storm watch.

The hurricane centre said Patricia was expected to bring rainfall of six to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of up to 20 inches in some locations.

Mr Feltgen said Patricia also posed problems for Texas. Forecast models indicate that after the storm breaks up over land, remnants of its tropical moisture will probably combine with and contribute to heavy rainfall that is already soaking Texas independently of the hurricane.

“It’s only going to make a bad situation worse,” he said.

Published: Friday 23rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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