The “extremely dangerous” Hurricane Patricia was sustaining 160-mph winds as it headed toward southwestern Mexico Thursday, with landfall expected Friday evening, the National Hurricane Center reported.
The storm was increased from a Category 4 to a Category 5 Friday night as it bore down on Mexico’s central Pacific Coast, according to forecasters. Officials in Mexico were handing out sandbags in preparation for possible flooding from the storm, which was expected to start heading north in the nighttime hours.
“This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.
The storm was expected to create rainfall of up to 20 inches along with possible flash floods and mudslides, according to the weather service.
In Manzanillo, one of the country’s principal ports, Luz Adriana Limon Rojas of Colima state’s civil defense agency said Thursday skies were still calm, if cloudy, and no evacuation orders had been issued. Patricia was centered Thursday night about 200 miles south-southwest of Manzanillo as it moved northwest at 13 mph.
But neighborhood officials had begun picking up sandbags and Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s civil defense coordinator, said schools would be closed Friday in Colima.
The neighboring state of Jalisco activated an emergency protocol, and Mexico’s National Water Commission recommended that small craft avoid navigating the waters of the area.
The projected track would carry it onshore between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the Mexican coast from Cabo Corrientes to Punta San Telmo, a stretch of coastline that includes Manzanillo. A broader area was under hurricane watch, tropical storm warning, or tropical storm watch.
Contributing: Associated Press
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