“Extremely dangerous and potentially catastrophic “ Hurricane Patricia was upgraded to Category 5 late Thursday and is expected make landfall on the southern Jalisco coast Friday afternoon or evening.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it was the strongest storm it had ever recorded in the eastern Pacific or the Atlantic.
The Center reported maximum sustained winds of 130 mph early Thursday. Winds could increase to 200 mph before it makes landfall, some sources say.
Residents along the Jalisco and Colima coasts are bracing themselves for severe winds, torrential rainfall, storm surges and possible flash flooding. Waves of up to 12 meters are expected.
Civil Protection units in both states are on maximum alert with evacuation orders already underway. All schools have been closed in Colima, as well as along the Jalisco coast, as well a some inland.
A call for all sea vessels to return to port and be securely berthed has been put out.
Around 2,500 people have been evacuated from Cabo Corrientes south of Puerto Vallarta. Flights have been cancelled from Puerto Vallara airport. Two planes and 600 buses are on standby for further evacuations, if needed.
Residents of Puerto Vallarta and other towns emptied store shelves of food and supplies Friday morning as the hurricane approached.
Residents and tourists have been urged to leave the shorefront for safer areas at least three blocks inland, or take refuge in official shelters. Many hotels are implanting their own evacuation procedures.
A hurricane warning was put in effect Thursday from Cabo Corrientes to Punta San Telmo, while tropical storm warnings have been issued east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas, as well as north of Cabo Corrientes to San Blas, including the Puerta Vallarta area.
Patricia should weaken as it moves inland but the storm is expected to dump a significant amount of rain on Jalisco, including Guadalajara and the Lake Chapala region.
Jalisco’s Civil Protection Agency has sent reinforcements to the coast to assist in whatever emergency situation arises. Six Chapala Cruz Roja (Red Cross) staff have also headed to the southern Jalisco coast.
The potential danger from this hurricane cannot be underestimated. According to weather.com, only four other eastern Pacific hurricanes have made landfall as a hurricane since 1949.
For up-to-date online local news on the hurricane follow Twitter hashtags @GobiernoJalisco @PCJalisco y @PcSegob.
The U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara advised its citizens Friday to monitor media reports and the Mexican government’s civil protection website, www.proteccioncivil.gob.mx for updated information about the storm. “Stay clear of beaches, as rough seas associated with storm conditions create severe hazards,” the Consulate said. “U.S. citizens should stay in contact with relatives and friends in the United States to apprise them of their whereabouts.”