Category Five Sets Record for Strongest Storm in Eastern Pacific

While conditions in the Atlantic have quieted down to some extent in the three weeks or so since Hurricane Joaquin, the Eastern Pacific keeps rolling along. In the last week, there have been two more named storms: Olaf and Patricia. Both have since become major hurricanes with Olaf moving into the Central Pacific zone while Patricia was grown into a monster storm of historic proportions.

Within the past 12 to 18 hours, Patricia has increased in strength significantly. Already a Category Five storm with 160 mile per hour winds as of last night, the powerful hurricane has continued to intensify in the ENSO enhanced warm waters of the Eastern Pacific. As of 8:00 AM EDT this morning, the storm had sustained winds increased to 200 miles per hour with gusts up to 245 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 880 millibars, or 25.99 inches of Hg.

Those recent developments with Patricia made it not only the strongest storm ever in the Eastern Pacific basin, but the strongest hurricane on record surpassing the mark of Hurricane Wilma (882 millibars). Only Typhoon Tip in the Pacific is a stronger storm with 870 millibars of pressure, or approximately 25.69 inches of Hg (Mercury). Tip was a powerful typhoon that roamed the Western Pacific during the period of October 4th to October 24th in 1979. The storm hit its peak intensity with 190 mph winds on October 12th of that year, and ultimately affected Guam, Caroline Islands, Japan, and Russia.

Returning to Patricia, a Hurricane Warning is in effect from San Blas to Punta San Telmo on the West Mexican Coast. A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning are in effect from east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas. Currently, the storm is located some 145 miles Southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, or about 215 miles South of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. The storm could strengthen a bit more before making landfall this afternoon or early evening in the warning area. Sustained winds could be as high as 205 miles per hour.

This storm will not end at the coast either. It will bring its abundant tropical moisture inland, where it will interact with the higher terrain of interior Mexico. As a result, tremendous condensation will take place, and torrential rains will occur producing devastating floods and mudslides. Total rainfall accumulations could at least be anywhere from 8 to 12 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 20 inches. Along the coast, the impacts of the storm will be greatest with Category Five strength winds accompanied by dangerous waves and surge. The Mexican government indicates that waves as high as 39 feet could impact the warned area.

What is left of Patricia may even have an impact on weather in the United States. Models had been indicating over the past several days of a significant rainfall event for Texas and even Louisiana. Low pressure has been developing in the Gulf of Mexico, and that is expected to join forces with Patricia’s remnants to bring significant rainfall to Texas, which has been dealing with a terrible drought. However, this rainfall may be too much for even the drought stricken Lone Star State, and produce flooding there. With the development of Olaf and Patricia over the last week or two, there have been 20 depressions, 16 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 8 major hurricanes.