The centre said on its website that Patricia was “the strongest hurricane on record
PUERTO VALLARTA: Monster Hurricane Patricia rumbled towards Mexico’s Pacific coast on Friday, growing into the strongest storm on record in the Western Hemisphere as the country braced for a potential catastrophe.
Authorities relocated some villagers, closed ports and schools in several states, and urged tourists to cancel trips as the hurricane headed toward landfall in the western state of Jalisco later on Friday.
“No hurricane of this magnitude has ever affected the Mexican Pacific,” President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter.
All stores were closed in the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta and shop owners placed duct tape in the shape of an X on their windows to protect them.
“I’ve had to give away tape to people who weren’t prepared,” said Ramiro Arias, owner of a frame shop. “We’re procrastinators. We don’t react until we see the situation”. Despite the incoming storm, a swimmer was spotted in the water.
A handful of people waited at a bus station for their last chances to get out of town while others bought water and loaded vehicles with jerrycans of fuel.
Rain pelted the coast after Patricia mushroomed late on Thursday into a Category Five storm — the top of the Saffir-Simpson scale — with maximum sustained winds of 325 kilometres per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Centre.
The centre said on its website that Patricia was “the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Centre’s area of responsibility which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific”.
“Some fluctuations in intensity are possible today but Patricia is expected to remain an extremely dangerous category five hurricane through landfall,” the center said.
“An extremely dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the right of where the centre makes landfall,” the Miami-based center added.Forecasts show that Patricia will make landfall somewhere between the major port of Manzanillo in Colima state and Jalisco state’s tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta, which Mexican officials fear could face a direct hit.Some businesses boarded up their store windows in Manzanillo.
Patricia was 200 kilometres southwest of Manzanillo and moving north at 17 kilometers per hour, according to the US forecasters.