Hurricane Patricia a record setter

B. McPherson

Hurricane Patricia heralded in the storm season for the eastern Pacific by setting new records. Patricia used the very warm waters of the eastern Pacific to fuel a category 5 monster. It grew rapidly from a tropical blip on the radar to a full-fledged hurricane in fewer than 36 hours. Wind gusts of 320 km/ hour(200 m/hr) were recorded.
The west coast of Mexico braced for a slamming. The area is very popular with N. American tourists. Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo were in its predicted path. Flights were cancelled and shelters were made ready. A state of emergency was declared. Harbours were shut down.
Then Mexico got as lucky as they could in the situation. The centre of the storm made landfall between the two towns in an area sparsely settled. The area got torrential rains and landslides but the expected catastrophe didn’t happen.
The mountains of Mexico disrupted the hurricane and weakened the winds, leaving heavy rains in its path. By morning Saturday the system was over eastern Mexico. The system just as quickly lost energy and was downgraded to a tropical depression.
By late afternoon Saturday Patricia had become a remnant low. Her life span was less than a day but during that time she set several records. It was the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the eastern Pacific. The eye of the storm registered the lowest air pressure recorded. And it was the fastest intensifying hurricane in the western hemisphere.
No deaths have been reported due to the storm. Two people died during the storm, but one was a confirmed heart attack. This is in sharp contrast to a hurricane that came ashore in the same area in 1959 that claimed 1800 lives. Luck and good emergency preparations are credited with the difference.
The system is moving north west, hitting Texas with heavy rains and flooding. Eventually the weather will lessen as it cools, finishing in the vicinity of the Great Lakes.
Weather systems are predicted to increase in intensity as the Earth warms. With more energy in the system, there is increased potential for superstorms.


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