Hurricane Patricia slams into Mexico

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

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Hurricane Patricia has roared ashore in south-west Mexico, bringing lashing rain, surging seas and cyclonic winds with what forecasters called a potential to cause “catastrophic” damage.

The storm’s centre made landfall near Cuixmala, about 55 miles west-north west of the port city of Manzanillo.

Record wind speeds measured earlier in the day had fallen off somewhat to 165mph , the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida, said , but Patricia was still an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm.

Residents and tourists were taking shelter or trying to make last-minute escapes before the hurricane arrived.

The Pacific coastline is dotted with sleepy fishing villages and gleaming resorts, including Manzanillo and the popular beach city of Puerto Vallarta.

Patricia’s projected path will quickly take it over mountainous terrain that is prone to dangerous flash floods and landslides.

Strong winds whipped palm trees and powerful waves rolled ashore in the storm area.

In Puerto Vallarta, residents reinforced homes with sandbags and shop windows with boards and tape, and hotels rolled up beachfront restaurants.

The airport was closed to all flights and all but deserted, but queues formed at a bus station with people anxious to buy tickets to Guadalajara and other inland destinations.

At a Red Cross shelter, about 90 people waited anxiously in the heavy, humid air, including OAPs in wheelchairs and young children snuggled between their parents on mattresses on the floor.

Fire brigade vehicles and ambulances rolled through the streets, sirens blaring, as emergency workers warned people in both Spanish and English to evacuate.

Jose Manuel Gonzalez Ochoa, whose family lives in their ground-floor restaurant, said neighbours told them water was 5ft deep in the street the last time a hurricane hit.

He said his family was heading to a town 30 minutes from the coast. “We’re better off heading up there already,” he said. “The whole government is telling us to leave. You have to obey.”

Asked what preparations he had made for his business, he said he would just close it up and see what was left after the storm passed.

Patricia formed suddenly on Tuesday evening as a tropical storm, turned into a hurricane just over a day later and kept building in strength, catching many off guard with its rapid growth.

By yesterday it was the most powerful hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere, with maximum sustained winds near 200mph, according to the US hurricane centre.

Patricia’s power is comparable to that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines two years ago, according to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organisation.

A state of emergency was declared in dozens of districts in Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco states and schools were closed.

According to the 2010 census, there were more than 7.3 million people living in Jalisco state and more than 255,000 in Puerto Vallarta. There were more than 650,000 in Colima state and more than 161,000 in Manzanillo.

One of the worst Pacific hurricanes to hit Mexico slammed into the same region, in Colima state, in October 1959, killing at least 1,500 people, according to Mexico’s National Centre for Disaster Prevention.

Civil protection officials warned that past hurricanes filled Puerto Vallarta’s streets with water, sand and flying projectiles.

“We need people to understand the magnitude of the hurricane,” interior secretary Miguel Angel Osorio told Radio Formula. “It is a devastating hurricane, the biggest one ever registered.”

Roberto Ramirez, director of Mexico’s National Water Commission, which includes the nation’s meteorological service, said Patricia’s winds would be powerful enough to lift cars, destroy homes that were not well-built and drag anyone caught outside away.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said American authorities were closely monitoring the path of Patricia and its potential effect on the area, where t ens of thousands of Americans are believed to live or be on holiday.

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

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