With 200 mph (325 kph) sustained winds, Hurricane Patricia has now become the strongest hurricane ever recorded in either the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific forecast areas, according to the National Hurricane Center. What’s more, it is on a collision course for southwestern Mexico later today, where it is expected to cause catastrophic damage.
“Data from three center fixes by the Hurricane Hunters indicate that the intensity, based on a blend of 700 mb-flight level and SFMR-observed surface winds, is near 175 kt. This makes Patricia the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center’s area of responsibility (AOR) which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins”, said NHC forecaster Pasch in the latest discussion of this perfect force of nature.
“The minimum central pressure estimated from the aircraft data, 880 mb, is the lowest ever for our AOR”, the report continues. “It seems incredible that even more strengthening could occur before landfall later today, but recent microwave imagery shows hints of a concentric eyewall developing. If the trend toward an eyewall replacement continues, it would cause the intensity to at least level off later today. The official forecast shows only a little more strengthening before landfall. Given the very mountainous terrain that Patricia should encounter after landfall, the cyclone should weaken even faster over land than predicted by the normal inland decay rate”.
“Confidence is high that Patricia will make landfall in the hurricane warning area along the coast of Mexico as an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane this afternoon or evening. Preparations to protect life and property in the hurricane warning area should have been completed, or rushed to completion, as tropical storm conditions are beginning to affect the area. Residents in low-lying areas near the coast in the hurricane warning area should evacuate immediately, since the storm surge could be catastrophic near and to the east of where the center makes landfall”.
Patricia started off as an area of enhanced convection in a low-pressure system on October 20th and has strengthened as it moved westwards. It became a tropical storm later that day and a hurricane on Thursday 22nd. It will hit Mexico as a strong Category 5 hurricane later today, but the high terrain will hopefully break up the system fairly quickly.
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