The Most Powerful Hurricane Ever Recorded Threatens Mexico

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Fri, Oct 23, 2015 - 10:32am

Hurricane Patricia is barreling down on Mexcio. From Mashable:

Hurricane Patricia, strongest hurricane ever recorded, will soon hit Mexico

Fueled by near-record warm ocean water and favorable atmospheric conditions, Hurricane Patricia has become the strongest hurricane ever measured — period — with maximum sustained winds at an astonishing 200 miles per hour.

The storm will make landfall later Friday in a populated part of Mexico's Pacific coast, potentially wiping out tourist resorts and anything else in its path between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. The storm may strengthen or weaken some before it strikes land, but it is likely to still be a Category 5 storm at landfall, which could bring a catastrophic combination of storm surge flooding, high winds and flooding rains.

If the storm hits at the current intensity or close to it, it would be the most intense storm ever to strike Mexico, and only the second Category 5 storm on record there.

The National Hurricane Center is warning of a "POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC LANDFALL" in southwestern Mexico later on Friday.

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Time2help's picture
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What else can you do but hunker down or try to get out of the way?  Thoughts and prayers going out for everyone in the path.

cmartenson's picture
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Anybody trying to ride that out should think twice...

A person I knew rode out Andrew in FL way back also landed as a cat 5 which is really just a very wide tornado more than a hurricane.

They described excitement when it was coming thinking, like I might have, that it would be a fun experience...something to tell people about later.

They said it was fun for about 30 minutes, then it became scary, and then terrifying, moaning winds and crashing sounds all around them, unspeakble ripping and tearing sounds...and then when they could not stand another minute of terror it ended.

They wandered out saw the immense damage, and then realized...that they were actually in the eye.


The worst was on the backside of the storm.  They said the terror became too extreme and so they mentally shut down, but they have enduring PTSD from the whole experience and would never, ever think about doing anything but getting out of the way next time.

Let's hope the people down there have scooted out of the way as much as possible.  That thing is a beast.

Wildlife Tracker's picture
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Scary. It looks like

Scary. It looks like Manzanillo is going to get hit pretty hard and there is a pretty cool building structure located there along the hill. It reminds me of a small Minas Tirith. Best wishes to everybody who was not able to evacuate for whatever reason.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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I have two friends in Puerto Vallarta

My friends Kenn Brian and Chris Wren, who run Mondolithic Studios, live in Puerto Vallarta. I'm very worried about them.

I cannot imagine the courage of the pilot who flew into this beast of a storm to take measurements. My father, when in the Navy, flew into storms not nearly as powerful for weather reading and it terrified him. this was not a man who admitted to terror easily.

KugsCheese's picture
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Build Right On Water and Expect What?

Never learn.

Mark_BC's picture
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I rescued a puppy last year

I rescued a puppy last year north of there, from the streets of Guerrerro Negro, halfway down the Baja Peninsula, now she's my doggy. There is an organization in Victoria BC that brings up rescues from P. Vallarta, quite a few actually -- Mexpup. I hope those street puppies do OK and don't get washed away!

I rode my bike down a desert canyon in Baja for 2 weeks which was quite an experience (actually, the same trip I got my dog). It's interesting how the rains can make such a difference to groundwater and whether you live or die. I luckily found a little bit of semi-stagnant groundwater in a palm oasis, otherwise I would have been high tailing it down to the Sea of Cortez pretty fast where I used my 2 desalinators -- 1 hand pump and then another home-made distilling pot. And then a few months later a hurricane came through and flooded the canyon and replenished all the groundwater. If anyone wants to read my trip report it is here. Kind of relevant to energy and water since I was testing first hand all the different methods, it might be interesting to some of you. For a couple weeks I was a mini version of humanity all packed into one. Everyone's got a Mexico story or two...

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Stronger hurricanes are the new norm for the Eastern Pacific

Since 1851 there have been only 13 storms where the central pressure was 922 hPa (27.23 inHg) or less, the measure of hurricane intensity. Nine of them have happened since 2000, three more were in the 1990s. In short, what used to be an exceedingly rare event, of such strong hurricanes, has become all to common.

Put another way, there was only one very strong storm in the 150+ years between 1851-1993. Now we've had 13 of that strength or greater in the last 14 years. Clearly things have changed. We should wish all the affected people from Patricia well in weathering this storm but the region will have to adapt to such events being rather frequent in the future.



LesPhelps's picture
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Looks like it's time to update my chart

It's been a while.  Seems like I left out tornados below Category 4, but included all reported hurricanes.  I guess it's time to update the chart.

As Albert Bartlett sagely counseled, do the math.


Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Here is your chart

The number of less intense hurricanes (Cat 1&2) have dropped but the numbers of high intensity hurricanes (Cat 4&5) have increased in recent decades. Climate change does not increase the frequency of hurricanes, it changes the frequency of severe hurricanes though since the powerhouse of these storms is sea surface temperatures.

In short, the Grinsted results suggest that by the end of the century, we will see 2 to 7 times more Katrina-like intense hurricanes.  Moreover, their storm surges and associated damage will be even larger because sea levels will also be higher.

In another important result, Grinsted et al. found that on average, the frequency of Katrina-magnitude storm surges doubles for every approximately 0.4°C average global surface warming.  Since human-caused global surface warming over the past century has already exceeded 0.4°C (link)

From another study.

"We find an observed change in the proportion of global Cat 4–5 hurricanes (relative to all hurricanes) at a rate of ~40% increase in proportion per °C increase in ACCI ... We conclude that since 1975 there has been a substantial and observable regional and global increase in the proportion of Cat 4–5 hurricanes of 25–30% per °C of anthropogenic global warming." (Holland and Bruyere 2013)

Figure 3: Human influence on hurricane proportions in the highest (Category 4-5) and lowest (Category 1-2) Saffir–Simpson hurricane categories

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Mark Cochrane
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Sterling Cornaby's picture
Sterling Cornaby
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I second that, avoid big hurricanes

In the early 90's I was a missionary on the Mississippi gulf coast and I got to hear many first hand accounts of hurricane Camille which happened in 1969 (category 5 at land fall). They were all quite horrendous, one I remember was of a man trying to pray in his house, but the wind noise was so loud he could not even hear his own thoughts, describing it as a screaming banshee. So he ended up putting all of his faith into a bunch of pine tree's. He watched these 20 to 30 foot pine trees bend, through a crack in a boarded up window, to the point of their tops hitting the ground over and over again. He put his faith into these trees, if they made it, he felt that he would as well. They both did. Needless to say I was convinced several times over to just leave the area if a storm like that is likely.

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Any Hurricane is a bad hurricane

I am such a lightweight. I lived through tropical storm Floyd and watched my home flood (raining from the ceilings for several hours) and watched my windows bow in and out through out the night, waiting for them to explode (they didn't).  Frightening night for me an I was quite alone.

I will never  be in a hurricane of any strength if I have a say...

Mark_BC's picture
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I wondered why people don't

I wondered why people don't just build underground hurricane shelters like bomb shelters. Then reading your comment it dawned on me -- they'd get flooded from the rain! duh.

Yoxa's picture
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Safe Room

>> they'd get flooded from the rain! duh.

That would be a problem, all right.

Consider building some sort of above-ground "safe room".

Food for thought: here's a picture of the credit union property in Moore, Oklahoma after the tornado in 2013. A number of people survived by huddling in the vault, which was all that remained of the building:

More food for thought: a book about safe rooms from FEMA, in hard copy or downloadable files:

EDIT: fixed town name.
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I'm in Mexico and Patricia came and went, was downgraded to Category 1. Some say prayer diverted it, the country is already suffering so much madness.

Whatever the case, I heard rumors that the government immediately hiked gasoline prices. Never let a good crisis go to waste! I'm going to see if I can find any info to confirm and if they passed any other questionable legislation.

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