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National Hurricane Center release Hurricane Patricia cyclone report

Picture of Hurricane Patricia as seen from the International Space Station in October.
Picture of Hurricane Patricia as seen from the International Space Station in October.(KBTX)
Published: Feb. 4, 2016 at 9:45 AM CST
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October 20-24, 2015, marks when Patricia became the strongest hurricane on record in the eastern North Pacific and North Atlantic basins. Patricia also had stronger maximum sustained winds at its peak intensity than originally thought which left severe damage and two direct deaths.

Due to warm water to the south of Mexico, Patricia intensified quickly to a category 5 hurricane. For it being so late in the hurricane season, this quick intensification is rarely observed in a tropical cyclone. The disturbance began near the Gulf of Tehuantepec and Patricia was classified a tropical depression on October 20th. At first, Patricia's development into a tropical cyclone was slow and took multiple weather systems. Patricia then entered an environment of very light winds in the upper atmosphere, high moisture, and greater instability over warm waters. It then strengthened into a hurricane on the evening of October 21st just south of Acapulco, Mexico.

The next twenty four hours is when Patricia's formation really changed. The eye of the hurricane became 10 nautical miles wide and by the the afternoon of October 22nd Patricia reached major hurricane strength. Surface wind speeds reached 115 knots with a minimum pressure of 957 millibars. Patricia's intensification continued overnight but turned northwestward with decreased speed. The cyclone then intensified into an extremely powerful hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 180 knots and a minimum pressure around 879 millibars. Patricia's organization continued to increase over the next hours with peak winds of 185 knots.

While maintaining its intensity, Patricia moved and turned north-northwestward. There was then an indication of a double eye wall structure which suggests a weakening trend. Peak flight-level winds began to decrease by about 50 knots and pressure began to rise. Patricia continued to weaken quickly in the coming hours before making landfall on the southwestern coast of Mexico near Playa Cuixmala. While moving over the higher terrain of the Sierra Madre mountains, the hurricane continued to weaken. Patricia then fell below hurricane strength before passing to the west of Guadalajara and later dissipated over central Mexico on the morning of October 24th.

When Patricia made landfall, its intensity is estimated to be 130 knots which makes the cyclone a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Since Hurricane Lane in 2007, Patricia is the first major hurricane to make landfall in mainland Mexico. Patricia is the strongest hurricane on record to affect Mexico dating back to 1949.

According to press reports, two direct deaths were attributed to Patricia and caused an estimated 5.4 billion Mexican pesos in preliminary damage. Patricia hit a sparsely populated area but produced areas of severe damage along the coast where the hurricane made landfall. Chamela and Emiliano Zapata villages sustained the worst damage where strong winds tore roofs off homes and buildings and uprooted trees and vegetation. Small fishing villages also saw severe damage and some were even destroyed. Heavy rains were associated with the cyclone, especially over elevated and mountainous terrain. About 2-5 inches of rainfall for the lower elevations and up to 13 inches of rain fell for higher terrain. This caused the Marabasco River to overflow and many other areas to flood. Numerous homes were damaged and about 100,000 acres of farmland was severely affected.

The full report from the National Hurricane Center can be found on the link provided on the side of this article.