Hurricane Patricia, which has been recorded as one of the strongest hurricanes ever known, struck Mexico’s Southwest Pacific Coast on Friday night. It threatened to inflict catastrophic damage in the region but after making landfall, the Category 5 storm weakened to Category 1 on Saturday.
Winds were blowing at almost 165 miles per hour (266 km/h) in the region when the hurricane struck. Western Mexico including Puerto Vallarta and other smaller resorts along the coast were put on high alert after a warning.
Before Patricia made landfall, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said that it was hard to predict what damage would be done by the massive storm.
“Our priority at all times has been and continues to be to protect the life of Mexicans. I reiterate: we can’t yet lower our guard. I insist: the most dangerous part of the hurricane has yet to enter the national territory. Besides, we expect intense rains in the Pacific and in various states in the central and northeastern parts of the country,” Nieto had said.
The government of Mexico had declared a state of emergency in dozens of municipalities in the states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco. Residents stacked sandbags around their properties and rushed to grocery stores to stock up on supplies. Thousands of people took refuge in government shelters across the region.
Pamela Garcia, a spokeswoman for Mexico’s meteorological service, said Patricia hit near Punta Perula between Puerto Vallarta and the major cargo port of Manzanillo.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) had compared Patricia to Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 6300 people in Philippines in 2013.
Roberto Ramirez, head of Mexico’s federal water agency, had said Patricia was so strong it could possibly cross the country and head over the Gulf of Mexico to the United States.
US astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted an image of the giant storm from 249 miles (401 km) above the Earth from the International Space Station. She said, “stay safe below, Mexico” as the image showed a significant portion of the globe in white cloud.
However, The US’ National Hurricane Center (NHC) had said that the storm would weaken once it hits Western Mexico’s mountainous terrain.
Before Patricia struck, the strongest storm ever recorded was the Cyclone Tip which hit Japan in 1979.
(With inputs from agencies)