Mexico: Hurricane Patricia, one of the most powerful storms on record, struck Mexico‘s Pacific coast on Friday, threatening to inflict catastrophic damage as emergency teams scrambled to evacuate thousands of people from homes and popular beach resorts. Blowing winds of almost 165 miles per hour (266 km/h), the Category 5 hurricane had western Mexico on high alert, including Puerto Vallarta and smaller resorts along the coast.
US weather experts said Patricia was the strongest storm yet registered in the Western Hemisphere, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) compared it to Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in the Philippines in 2013. Officials said 15,000 domestic and foreign tourists were evacuated from Puerto Vallarta. US President Barack Obama said the United States was standing by ready to help Mexico.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said it was hard to predict what damage would be done by the massive storm. Mexican and US officials said the unprecedented hurricane could wreak catastrophic damage. Roberto Ramirez, head of Mexico’s federal water agency, said Patricia was so strong it could possibly cross the country and head over the Gulf of Mexico to the United States.