Hurricane Patricia shows relatively little damage to Mexico, as it moves across the country after being downgraded, but Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto warns that it still poses a major threat.
The storm made landfall in Western Mexico on Friday, with states of Jalisco and Colina being battered by heavy rain and wind speeds of 265km/h. So far, no deaths have been reported as a result of the storm however, and damage has been restricted to minor landslides and fallen trees.
At its peak, Patricia was recorded as having wind speeds of up to 325km/h, making it the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, and a category five storm – the highest rating. It has since weakened, however, with current wind speeds of around 155km/h, and been downgraded to a category two storm, according to the US National Hurricane Centre. The eye of the storm is currently measured at around 10km wide.
Pena Nieto was keen to stress the severity of the storm however, when he addressed the nation on television around five hours into the hurricane’s impact. He confirmed that ‘the damages have been smaller than those corresponding to a hurricane of this magnitude.’ He urged Mexicans to continue to take shelter, however, warning ‘We can’t let our guard down yet. I insist, the most dangerous part of the hurricane has yet to enter the national territory.’
The states most at risk are thought to be Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero, where around 400,000 people live in the path of the storm, as it heads North-North East across the country.
Prior to Patricia’s touchdown, authorities relocated coastal residents and evacuated tourists from beachfront hotels, with around 7,000 foreign tourists and 21,000 local holidaymakers said to be in the busy resort of Puerto Vallarta, close to the impact of the storm.
Authorities have also warned that people in the region of Colima must be alert, as the increasingly active volcano there could cause mudflows as the ash mixes with rain water. Whilst the storm may have passed in some regions, heavy rainfall still poses a threat of flooding, and residents have to work with authorities to clear fallen trees and overturned vehicles.
US President Barack Obama has offered his support, stating that American disaster aid experts are on the ground ready to support local authorities in dealing with the effects of the storm.