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Patricia becomes strongest hurricane ever in satellite era

Hurricane Patricia, located in the Eastern Pacific and in the midst of a catastrophic turn toward Mexico, strengthened this morning, becoming the strongest hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere. With maximum sustained winds of 200 miles per hour, gusting to 245 miles per hour, and minimum central pressure of 880mb, Patricia is also the strongest hurricane since the satellite era began.

The incredible hurricane has strengthened dramatically — at a near record breaking pace — over the past 24 to 48 hours. The hurricanes maximum sustained winds increased 100 knots within a 24 hour period from 4am CDT on Thursday to 4am CDT on Friday. This morning, Patricia strengthened additionally, becoming the strongest Hurricane ever measured within the National Hurricane Center’s area of responsibility.

Most unfortunate of all, Patricia is forecast to make a northeastward turn over the next 12 hours, with some additional strengthening possible as she does so. This track will take the storm toward the Mexican coast this evening, with catastrophic impacts likely for areas within the path of the storm. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Patricia to make landfall as a catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane:

HURRICANE PATRICIA DISCUSSION NUMBER  14
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL       EP202015
400 AM CDT FRI OCT 23 2015

Data from three center fixes by the Hurricane Hunters indicate
that the intensity, based on a blend of 700 mb-flight level and
SFMR-observed surface winds, is near 175 kt.  This makes Patricia
the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center's
area of responsibility (AOR) which includes the Atlantic and the
eastern North Pacific basins.  The minimum central pressure
estimated from the aircraft data, 880 mb, is the lowest ever for
our AOR.  It seems incredible that even more strengthening could
occur before landfall later today, but recent microwave imagery
shows hints of a concentric eyewall developing.  If the trend
toward an eyewall replacement continues, it would cause the
intensity to at least level off later today.  The official forecast
shows only a little more strengthening before landfall.  Given the
very mountainous terrain that Patricia should encounter after
landfall, the cyclone should weaken even faster over land than
predicted by the normal inland decay rate.

Recent center fixes show that the hurricane is gradually turning
toward the right, and the initial motion estimate is 340/10 kt.  The
track forecast scenario remains about the same.  Patricia should
continue to move around the western periphery of a mid-level
anticyclone today and turn north-northeastward ahead of a trough to
the northwest tonight and Saturday.  The official track forecast is
somewhat slower than the latest model consensus and lies between
the GFS and ECMWF solutions.

The global models continue to depict the development of a cyclone
near the Texas coast over the weekend.  Based on the predicted
upper-level winds, this system should be non-tropical in nature.
However this cyclone is expected to draw significant amounts of
moisture from Patricia's remnants, and could result in locally
heavy rainfall over portions of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico
coastal area within the next few days.  Refer to statements from
local National Weather Service forecast offices for details.

We would like to acknowledge deeply the Air Force Hurricane Hunters
for their observations establishing Patricia as a record-breaking
hurricane.  Clearly, without their data, we would never have known
just how strong a tropical cyclone it was.

KEY MESSAGES:

1.  Confidence is high that Patricia will make landfall in the
hurricane warning area along the coast of Mexico as an extremely
dangerous category 5 hurricane this afternoon or evening.
Preparations to protect life and property in the hurricane warning
area should have been completed, or rushed to completion, as
tropical storm conditions are beginning to affect the area.
Residents in low-lying areas near the coast in the hurricane warning
area should evacuate immediately, since the storm surge could be
catastrophic near and to the east of where the center makes
landfall.

2.  In addition to the coastal impacts, very heavy rainfall is
likely to cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides in the
Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero continuing
into Saturday.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT  23/0900Z 17.0N 105.5W  175 KT 200 MPH
 12H  23/1800Z 18.8N 105.4W  180 KT 205 MPH
 24H  24/0600Z 21.7N 104.2W   60 KT  70 MPH...INLAND
 36H  24/1800Z 24.5N 102.5W   20 KT  25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
 48H  25/0600Z...DISSIPATED

$$
Forecaster Pasch

Two major cities lie within the cone of uncertainty for Hurricane Patricia: Chalacatepec, and Perula. Between these two major cities is a more rural area, much less developed, with a much lower population center. But over the last 12  hours, the National Hurricane Center has shifted forecasts toward the city of Perula, with a landfall very close to the city itself.

Forecast track and intensity for Hurricane Patricia.

Forecast track and intensity for Hurricane Patricia.

Perula is a moderately populated Mexican city which lies on a south-facing bay. This complicates matters as it opens up the possibility for catastrophic impacts from wind, storm surge, and torrential rains with flooding. A non-direct impact from the eye of Patricia would further complicate matters for Perula. Current indications are that a storm surge of 15 to 20 feet is possible, but if the eyewall itself were to move nearby, the storm surge could exceed 30 feet.

Information in regards to evacuation plans within Perula is limited. If this post happens to be read by any emergency management in that area, we recommend evacuating anyone within 25 miles of sea level near Perula, Chalacatepec, and in between.

For the remainder of the day, we will update this post with further information. The new information will appear at the top of the post, with older updates being pushed downward within the post itself.

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