Friday, October 23, 2015

Hurricane Patricia: Record Breaking Strength

The strongest hurricane of the 2015 season (by far!) and the most powerful tropical cyclone on record for the western hemisphere is moving towards the Mexican coast Friday afternoon. 

Hurricane Patricia became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere on Friday morning as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200mph. The estimated minimum central pressure is 880mb, the lowest ever recorded within the National Hurricane Center's Area of Responsibility (which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins).

To compare, here's a list of the top 4 strongest hurricanes in the pacific:

Hurricane Name:YEARDate as a Category 5Hours in Cat. 5 StatusPeak Winds; Sustained
Lowest Pressure
Rick2009October 1824180
Celia2010June 2512160
Marie2014August 246160
Patricia2015October 2312200
In the Atlantic, Hurricane Wilma will now be considered the second most intense:
Hurricane Name:YEARDate as a Category 5Hours in Cat. 5 StatusPeak Winds; Sustained
Lowest Pressure
Wilma2005October 1918185

As of Friday morning, a Hurricane Warning was in effect from San Blas to Punta San Telmo, Mexico.

A hurricane warning means that preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. Hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area. 

Hurricane Patricia approaches the cities of Manzanillo, Sayula, Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, Durango and Torreon within the next few days. 

Expected to make landfall today, Hurricane Patricia packs sustained winds in excess of 200mph.

Mexico's pacific coast is expected to be leveled with very little left behind after the storm makes landfall Friday evening. Western Mexico's rocky terrain near the coast may help to diminish the storm's relative strength over the next 36 hours, but landfall is expected to be catastrophic

Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center of the storm 30 miles in any direction. 
Tropical Storm force winds extend outward up to 175miles. 

Patricia is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 8 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches by Saturday evening. These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. An extremely dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the right of where the center makes landfall.  Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.