Hurricane Patricia rapidly strengthened overnight to become the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center’s area of responsibility, which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins. Patricia is a STRONG Category 5 hurricane.
As of 2 pm ET (11 am PT), Patricia was located 85 Mi Southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico with sustained winds of 200 mph. The central pressure was 879 mb. Patricia is a compact storm with hurricane force winds extending outward from the center rough 35 miles.
To provide a different perspective, sustained wind speeds of 200 mph is the equivalent of the initial categorization of an EF5 tornado (see the Tornado EF scale below) So while the storm is compact, for areas that do see these very strong wind speeds, catastrophic damage is certain even if they last only a few minutes.
Patricia was moving north at 10 mph is expected to make landfall a as Category 5 hurricane in Mexico this afternoon/evening. Since the hurricane force winds are concentrated with the storm the catastrophic damage will be focused in and near the center. In addition to the winds, a significant storm will cause severe coastal flooding to the right (or south) of where Patricia makes landfall.
Patricia’s Path Once Inland
With two mountain chains in the path of Patricia (Sierra Madre del Sur and Sierra Madre Occidental) it will quickly weaken as it moves to the north/northeast. By 5 am PT on Saturday, Patricia is expected to be well inland and to have decreased to tropical storm strength with sustained winds of 69 mph and gusts to 86 mph.
Hurricane models are in good agreement that Patricia will move north/northeast and bring the remnants of the system through Northern Mexico and into Texas on Saturday and into Sunday.
Significant moisture will still be associated with the remnants. In addition, once it reaches Texas, the system will tap into the Gulf of Mexico as a moisture source. This is setting the stage for heavy rainfall in Texas.
The rain that is ongoing in Texas is not connected to Patricia and is from an upper level system which rotated out of the Southwest US. Widespread 2 – 3 inch rainfall amounts have already occurred in parts of western and Northern Texas since Wednesday (shown in the darker greens and yellows).
While this area had seen a return to drought with little rain in the past month, the rain this past week is starting to saturate soils. Additional rain from the upper low is expected today with widespread 1 – 4 inches and localized 5 to 6 inches today across parts of central Texas. The moisture associated with Patricia arrives on Saturday and the heavy rainfall shifts to the South east with an additional 1 – 4 inches possible and localized 5 to 6 inches.
The team at WxIntegrations will continue to provide relevant information and resources to help you better understand and prepare by incorporating weather impacts into your planning and response.