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.
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.