Forecasters say Hurricane Patricia has grown into the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western hemisphere, expected to dump up to a foot of rain and likely to cause flash floods and mudslides when it makes landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast late Friday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the Category 5 storm’s maximum sustained winds had grown to 200 miles per hour (mph), making it the strongest storm on record in the eastern Pacific and Atlantic.
“This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.
Director of Mexico’s National Water Commission Roberto Ramirez says that Hurricane Patricia is powerful enough to lift up automobiles, destroy homes that are not sturdily built with cement and steel and will be able to drag along people caught outside when the storm strikes.
Patricia’s power was comparable to that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines two years ago, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization.
Feltgen said Patricia also poses problems for Texas. Forecast models indicate that after the storm breaks up over land, remnants of its tropical moisture will likely combine with and contribute to heavy rainfall that is already soaking Texas independently of the hurricane, he said.