Hurricane Patricia becomes strongest hurricane ever recorded; Catastrophic landfall expected in Mexico Friday

Patricia Strongest Hurricane in Pacific History

By Weather.com

Mexico's Pacific coast is in the crosshairs of Hurricane Patricia, which became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere on Friday morning as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200 mph (320 kph).

The hurricane is forecast to make landfall in the Mexican state of Jalisco Friday evening as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane capable of causing widespread destruction. Residents and authorities in Mexico are rushing to prepare for what will likely be the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall on that country's Pacific coastline.

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At 4 a.m. CDT, the eye of Hurricane Patricia was about 160 miles (255 kilometers) south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and was moving north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

In addition to its unprecedented 200-mph (320-kph) sustained winds, Hurricane Patricia now holds the record for lowest pressure in any hurricane on record. With a minimum central pressure of 880 millibars (25.99 inches of mercury) at the 4 a.m. CDT advisory, Patricia broke the record of 882 millibars set by Wilma almost exactly 10 years ago.

Data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance mission late Thursday night provided critical data demonstrating the extreme intensification of Hurricane Patricia in near-real time.

See photos of Hurricane Patricia as it barrels toward Mexico:

18 PHOTOS
Hurricane Patricia storm photos, satellite photos and evacuations
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Hurricane Patricia becomes strongest hurricane ever recorded; Catastrophic landfall expected in Mexico Friday
IN SPACE - In this handout photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Patricia is seen from the International Space Station. The hurricane made landfall on the Pacfic coast of Mexico on October 23. (Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images)
View of a breakwater following the passage of Hurricane Patricia in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on October 24 ,2015. Record-breaking Hurricane Patricia weakened to a tropical storm over north-central Mexico on Saturday, dumping heavy rain that triggered flooding and landslides but so far causing less damage than feared. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a street in Manzanillo, Colima state, Mexico on October 23, 2015, during hurricane Patricia. The strongest hurricane ever recorded crashed into Mexico's Pacific coast on Friday, ratcheting up fears that super-storm Patricia will unleash death and destruction with its powerful winds and driving rain. AFP PHOTO / Jonathan Levinson (Photo credit should read Jonathan Levinson/AFP/Getty Images)
View of the street during the arrival of hurricane Patricia in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on October 23 ,2015. Monster Hurricane Patricia roared toward Mexico's Pacific coast on Friday, prompting authorities to evacuate villagers, close ports and urge tourists to cancel trips over fears of a catastrophe. The US National Hurricane Center called Patricia the strongest eastern north Pacific hurricane on record. It said the storm will make a potentially catastrophic landfall later Friday in southwestern Mexico. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Municipal workers collect branches from a flooded street in Manzanillo, Colima state, Mexico on October 23, 2015, during hurricane Patricia. The strongest hurricane ever recorded crashed into Mexico's Pacific coast on Friday, ratcheting up fears that super-storm Patricia will unleash death and destruction with its powerful winds and driving rain. AFP PHOTO / Jonathan Levinson (Photo credit should read Jonathan Levinson/AFP/Getty Images)
View of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on October 23, 2015, during hurricane Patricia. Monster Hurricane Patricia roared toward Mexico's Pacific coast on Friday, prompting authorities to evacuate villagers, close ports and urge tourists to cancel trips over fears of a catastrophe. The US National Hurricane Center called Patricia the strongest eastern north Pacific hurricane on record. It said the storm will make a potentially catastrophic landfall later Friday in southwestern Mexico. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Puerto Vallarta #Huracán @Patricia https://t.co/sEEBdzwbdG
Hurricane Patricia https://t.co/Om0nKibkMY
VIDEO: Hurricane #Patricia: in Cihuatlán in the state of Colima. Palm trees figting against wind. https://t.co/urNul5eiIJ v @alezrodriguez
Members of the Red Cross prepare a temporary shelter in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on October 23 ,2015, during hurricane Patricia. Monster Hurricane Patricia roared toward Mexico's Pacific coast on Friday, prompting authorities to evacuate villagers, close ports and urge tourists to cancel trips over fears of a catastrophe. The US National Hurricane Center called Patricia the strongest eastern north Pacific hurricane on record. It said the storm will make a potentially catastrophic landfall later Friday in southwestern Mexico. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican soldiers patrol streets during the arrival of hurricane Patricia in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on October 23 ,2015. Monster Hurricane Patricia roared toward Mexico's Pacific coast on Friday, prompting authorities to evacuate villagers, close ports and urge tourists to cancel trips over fears of a catastrophe. The US National Hurricane Center called Patricia the strongest eastern north Pacific hurricane on record. It said the storm will make a potentially catastrophic landfall later Friday in southwestern Mexico. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Evacuees remain at a shelter in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on October 23 ,2015, during hurricane Patricia. Monster Hurricane Patricia roared toward Mexico's Pacific coast on Friday, prompting authorities to evacuate villagers, close ports and urge tourists to cancel trips over fears of a catastrophe. The US National Hurricane Center called Patricia the strongest eastern north Pacific hurricane on record. It said the storm will make a potentially catastrophic landfall later Friday in southwestern Mexico. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
View of street at Boca de Pascuales community as residents are evacuated by local authorities before the arrival of hurricane Patricia in Colima State, Mexico on October 22,2015. Fast-moving Patricia grew into an 'extremely dangerous' major hurricane off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said, warning of possible landslides and flash flooding. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of Boca de Pascuales, Colima State, Mexico, are evacuated on October 22, 2015, before the arrival of hurricane Patricia. Fast-moving Patricia grew into an 'extremely dangerous' major hurricane off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said, warning of possible landslides and flash flooding. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
A man leaves his house in Boca de Pascuales, Colima State, Mexico, on October 22, 2015, before the arrival of hurricane Patricia. Fast-moving Patricia grew into an 'extremely dangerous' major hurricane off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said, warning of possible landslides and flash flooding. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of Boca de Pascuales, Colima State, Mexico, are evacuated on October 22, 2015, before the arrival of hurricane Patricia. Fast-moving Patricia grew into an 'extremely dangerous' major hurricane off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said, warning of possible landslides and flash flooding. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Waves break on the beach in Boca de Pascuales, Colima State, Mexico, on October 22, 2015. Fast-moving Patricia grew into an 'extremely dangerous' major hurricane off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said, warning of possible landslides and flash flooding. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
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Unprecedented Among Pacific Hurricanes

Hurricane Patricia became the strongest Pacific hurricane on record shortly after midnight CDT early Friday. Air Force Hurricane Hunters had flown through the eye of Patricia and reported a sea-level pressure of 894 millibars as measured by a dropsonde inside the eye itself. Wind measurements suggested that the pressure measurement was not in the exact center of the eye and was probably not the absolute lowest pressure, prompting NHC to estimate the minimum central pressure at 892 millibars in its special 12:30 a.m. CDT advisory.

Tropical cyclone strength comparisons are typically based on minimum central pressure. At 892 millibars, Patricia shattered the Eastern Pacific basin's previous record of 902 millibars set by Hurricane Linda in 1997.

See data from the ten most costly hurricanes in the United States:

While a number of typhoons in the western North Pacific have been stronger, Patricia is by far the strongest hurricane in any basin where the term "hurricane" applies to tropical cyclones – namely, the central and eastern North Pacific basins and the North Atlantic basin, which includes the North Atlantic Ocean itself plus the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

Exceptionally Dangerous Situation in Mexico

The eye of Patricia is expected to move onshore Friday night in the Mexican state of Jalisco, which includes the popular coastal resort city of Puerto Vallarta as well as the inland metropolis of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city.

(MAP: Track Hurricane Patricia with Our New Interactive Storm Tracker)

The adjoining states of Colima and Nayarit will also feel the effects of Hurricane Patricia, which in addition to catastrophic winds will also bring a formidable flood threat. Depending on the exact track of Patricia's eye, the resort city of Manzanillo may experience destructive winds, and is very likely to see flooding rainfall, dangerous storm surge and large, battering ocean waves breaking onshore.

(Forecast: Guadalajara | Manzanillo | Puerto Vallarta)

Patricia

Watches and warnings remain in effect for parts of Mexico's Pacific coast:

A hurricane warning includes the Pacific coast of Mexico from San Blas to Punta San Telmo. This warning includes the major coastal resort cities of Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.
A hurricane watch is in effect east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas.
A tropical storm warning is also in effect from east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas.

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area within 48 hours. A watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area.

Tropical storm conditions are possible early Friday in the warning areas, and hurricane force winds are expected to reach the warning area Friday afternoon or evening.

While the resort area of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo may see heavy rainfall associated with Patricia, there are no watches or warnings for tropical storm or hurricane conditions there. Acapulco is also not under any watches or warnings for Patricia.

Patricia

Patricia is forecast to remain a Category 5 hurricane at landfall, making it capable of causing catastrophic wind damage.

Only one Category 5 hurricane has ever been known to make landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast. That hurricane followed a path similar to that of Hurricane Patricia and struck near Puerto Vallarta in late October 1959, causing some 1,800 deaths.

(MORE: Expert Analysis | Hurricane Central)

With Patricia less than 24 hours away from landfall, this is the first time a Category 5 hurricane has posed an imminent threat to land in North America since Hurricane Felix approached Nicaragua in September 2007.

Patricia

Patricia is expected to dump 6 to 12 inches (150 to 300 millimeters) of rain over the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero. Life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides are possible. Localized amounts as high as 20 inches (500 millimeters) are possible.

Patricia

A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the right of where the center of Patricia makes landfall. In addition, Mexico's national water comission, CONAGUA, warned Thursday that waves of up to 12 meters (39 feet) may crash onto beaches near the landfall point.

Patricia

Once this system moves inland, mid-level moisture and energy from it may get pulled into the south-central U.S. This may add more fuel to a heavy rain and flooding threat in Texas and nearby states this weekend.

Impressive Rapid Intensification

Patricia rapidly organized and intensified from Wednesday night through early Friday. Maximum sustained winds with the storm increased 115 mph in a 24-hour window from 85 mph at 4 a.m. CDT Thursday to 200 mph at 4 a.m. CDT Friday.

During that same time, the minimum central pressure of Patricia also decreased 100 millibars, from 980 millibars to 880 millibars.

This places Patricia among the most rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones ever witnessed anywhere in the world since the advent of modern meteorology.

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15 of the deadliest American hurricanes ever
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Hurricane Patricia becomes strongest hurricane ever recorded; Catastrophic landfall expected in Mexico Friday

Hurricane Hugo, 1989: 21 deaths

Hurricane Hugo made landfall as a Category 4 storm in South Carolina. It caused 21 deaths in the US and resulted in $7.1 billion of damage. At the time, it was the costliest storm in US history.

Photo courtesy: Getty

Tropical Storm Allison, 2001: 41 deaths

While not an official hurricane, Allison clocks in as the costliest and deadliest tropical storm in US history, causing 41 deaths and costing more than $5 billion in damage. The storm started over the Gulf of Mexico near Texas, then traveled east, causing floods like the one pictured here in Houston, Texas.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Irene, 2011: 56 deaths

Hurricane Irene, the first storm to hit the US since Ike three years earlier, made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. The storm eventually made its way up to New York City, bringing flooding -- like the kind pictured here in Puerto Rico -- and causing $7.3 billion in damage overall.

Photo courtesy: AP

Hurricane Floyd, 1999: 57 deaths

Hurricane Floyd was a catastrophic storm because of the rain it brought along. The rain caused extreme flooding from North Carolina on up as the Category 2 storm traveled up the East Coast.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Great Atlantic Hurricane, 1944: 64 deaths

The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 was also devastating to New England, with 64 deaths and more than $100 million in damage. The storm was a Category 3 as it sped up the coast, hitting the Carolinas, Rhode Island, and Long Island before downgrading to a Category 2 in Maine.

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Hurricane Agnes, 1972: 122 deaths

Hurricane Agnes, as seen in this image made it all the way inland to Pennsylvania. Although it was only a Category 1 storm (with winds from 74-95 mph), it still caused 122 deaths and caused $2.1 billion in damage.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Ike, 2008: 195 deaths

The third costliest storm in US history, with $29.5 billion in damage, occurred in September 2008. Starting off the west coast of Africa, Hurricane Ike made its way over the Caribbean and into the Gulf, making US landfall in Texas as a Category 2 storm

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Hurricane Camille, 1969: 256 deaths

Hurricane Camille formed in the Gulf of Mexico and hit Mississippi as a Category 5 storm. Camille caused more than 256 deaths and clocks in as the second most intense hurricane to hit the US.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

New England, 1938: 256 deaths

Nicknamed "Long Island Express," the storm hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm before charging north and hitting Long Island, New York and Connecticut as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm was responsible for more than 256 deaths.

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Hurricane Sandy, 2012: 285 deaths

With $71.4 billion in damage, Hurricane Sandy was the second costliest hurricane in US history. The Category 1 storm pummeled New York City, flooding the city's transportation systems and leaving thousands of homes destroyed.

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Photo courtesy: AP

Hurricane Audrey, 1957: 416 deaths

The U.S. started naming storms with women's names starting in 1953. Hurricane Audrey, the first storm of the 1957 hurricane season was the deadliest of the 1950s. It originated in the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm. This image of the storm shows just how far hurricane imaging has come.

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Atlantic-Gulf, 1919: 600 to 900 deaths

This Category 4 storm swept into the Gulf of Mexico right under Key West, Florida(pictured), landing as a Category 3 storm in Corpus Christi, Texas. Anywhere from 600 to 900 people died in that storm.

Hurricane Katrina, 2005: 1,200 deaths

Hurricane Katrina is arguably the most notorious storm of the 21st century. The storm made landfall as a Category 5 near Miami before striking Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. Katrina was the third deadliest, and costliest hurricane in U.S. history with more than 1,200 deaths and $108 billion in damage.

Photo courtesy: Reuters

San Felipe Okeechobee, 1928: 2,500 deaths

This hurricane was the second deadliest in US history, with more than 2,500 deaths. The Category 4 storm made landfall in Palm Beach on September 10, 1928. Puerto Rico got hit hard as well, with winds at 144 mph.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Galveston, Texas in 1900: 8,000 to 12,000 deaths

The deadliest hurricane in US history happened at the turn of the 20th century. The Category 4 of 5 hurricane -- with winds anywhere from 130-156 mph -- made landfall in Galveston, Texas (pictured), then headed north through the Great Plains. Anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 people died in the storm.

Photo courtesy: Creative Commons

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