Hurricane Patricia breaks records as it slams into Mexico’s Pacific coast


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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Hurricane Patricia slammed into the Pacific coast of Mexico about 55 miles west-northwest of the city of Manzanillo around 7:15 p.m. EDT Friday. The storm made landfall as a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph and gusts to 235 mph.

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It remains to be seen how much damage the storm has caused (and will continue to cause as a heavy rain maker). But with video like what’s below, it’s hard to imagine anything less than catastrophic damage, especially near where the storm made landfall.

 

The storm is very impressive for many reasons. Maximum sustained winds with it increased an astounding 115 mph in a 24-hour window from 85 mph at 5 a.m. EDT Thursday to 200 mph at 5 a.m. EDT Friday. During that same time, the minimum central pressure of Patricia also decreased 100 millibars, from 980 millibars to 880 millibars. This places Patricia among the most rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones ever witnessed anywhere in the world since the advent of modern meteorology.

The storm also broke several records. At 879mb, it becomes the strongest tropical system ever measured in the Western Hemisphere and the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the eastern Pacific and the Atlantic. To give some perspective, a typical area of low pressure has a pressure of around 1000mb. Only Typhoon Tip back in 1979 in the western Pacific had a lower recorded pressure of 870mb.

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The storm also now holds the record for fastest maximum sustained winds recorded within a tropical system in the Western Hemisphere, at an astounding 200 mph. Gusts over 235 mph were possible at the storm’s peak Friday.

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So, what led to the development of this unprecedented storm? While El Niño has led to less than favorable (but not impossible) conditions for tropical development in the Atlantic, the pattern typically leads to more favorable conditions for tropical development in the eastern Pacific, with low wind shear and warmer than average sea surface temperatures.

 

 

Bottom line: Hurricane Patricia is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere with maximum sustained winds of 200 mph and a pressure of 879 mb. The storm made landfall about 55 miles west-northwest of Manzanillo around 7:15 p.m. EDT Friday and will continue to weaken into a remnant low. Widespread heavy rain is expected across Mexico and into Texas and Louisiana through early next week.

– Meteorologist Pierce Legeion

Pierce Legeion
Pierce Legeion is a meteorologist and digital journalist for WNCT 9 First Alert Weather.

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