Earlier Friday, Patricia became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200 mph (320 kph) and its central pressure fell to 879 millibars (25.96 inches of mercury).
At 10 a.m. CDT Saurday, the center of Tropical Depression Patricia was located 95 miles (155 km) northeast of Zacatecas, Mexico, and was moving toward the north-northeast at 24 mph (39 kph). Maximum sustained winds were 35 mph, a decrease of 40 mph from the 4 a.m. advisory, when it was still a hurricane.
The eye of Hurricane Patricia made landfall Friday at 6:15 p.m. CDT near Cuixmala in Jalisco state of southwest Mexico. Maximum sustained winds at landfall were estimated at 165 mph, still firmly within the Category 5 range on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
An automated weather observation site in Cuixmala reported a 185-mph wind with a gust of 211 mph at the time of landfall, but NOAA cautioned that these measurements have not been evaluated for quality or calibration.
The landfall point was about 60 miles (96 km) northwest of Manzanillo, where tropical storm-force winds likely occurred.
An enhanced satellite image showing Category 5 Hurricane Patricia at landfall near Cuixmala, Mexico at 6:15 p.m. CDT, Oct. 23, 2015.
In addition to its unprecedented 200-mph (320-kph) sustained winds earlier Friday, 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 in the Atlantic Basin almost exactly 10 years ago. Around 1 p.m. CDT Friday, the minimum central pressure reached its lowest point, 879 millibars (25.96 inches of mercury).
Data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter airborne reconnaissance mission late Thursday night provided critical data demonstrating the extreme intensification of Hurricane Patricia in near-real time. A new NOAA reconnaissance aircraft reached the eye of Patricia early Friday afternoon to gather additional direct measurements of the storm’s intensity.
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.
Latest Storm Status and Satellite Image
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.
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.
Patricia’s winds will continue to wind down as its center grinds across the rugged terrain of Mexico’s interior.
The center of Patricia has pushed inland on a track that spared most if not all of Mexico’s major cities, including the popular coastal resort city of Puerto Vallarta and the inland metropolis of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city.
Heavy rainfall is becoming less of a concern in Mexico as Patricia pushes inland.
All hurricane and tropical storm warnings have been discontinued for the Mexican coast.
Only one Category 5 hurricane had ever previously 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.
The good news is the core of strongest winds only occurred over a very small area near the center, with hurricane force winds that extended outward up to 30 miles from the center at landfall. Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 175 miles at the time of landfall.
Sustained Wind Forecast
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.
As this system moves inland, mid-level moisture and energy from it will get pulled into the south-central U.S, adding 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.
Patricia weakened even faster than it strengthened; by 4 a.m. CDT Saturday, its central pressure had risen 106 millibars in 24 hours, from 880 to 986. Its maximum sustained winds had dropped to 75 mph, a loss of 125 mph from 24 hours earlier.
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