Hurricane Patricia — the most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere with winds reaching up to 200 mph (320 kph) — is expected to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast early Friday evening.
According to Weather.com, the “potentially catastrophic” Category 5 hurricane will make landfall in the state of Jalisco. As of 1 p.m. CDT, the eye of Hurricane Patricia was located about 85 miles (135 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, moving north at a pace of 10 mph (16 kph).
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In addition to record-breaking winds, Patricia is also expected to dump between eight and 12 inches (200 to 300 millimeters) of rain over the states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches, the National Hurricane Center warned. Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are also a strong possibility, as is a storm surge that could produce “significant coastal flooding” near where the center makes landfall. The surge will result in large and extremely dangerous waves.
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Meanwhile, as Reuters reports, residents and authorities are gathering emergency supplies and bracing for the hurricane which is expected to cause widespread destruction. Puerto Vallarta’s airport and port have been shut down, as has Manzanillo’s major cargo port. State oil company Pemex said service stations would cease selling gasoline in the hurricane-watch area. Local schools have also been closed and business owners are boarding and taping up their windows. The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) said it was planning to shut down electricity in the states of Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit.
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Many in the area are either riding out the storm in city-designated shelters or evacuating to Guadalajara, which is a five-hour drive inland, Reuters said.
State officials are comparing Hurricane Patricia to Typhoon Haiyan, a tropical cyclone which hit Southeast Asia in November 2013 and killed over 6,300 people in the Philippines.