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Hurricane Patricia Makes Landfall, Downgraded to Tropical Storm

The storm’s impact on land has been less severe than initially thought, but it still knocked down trees, flooded streets, and battered buildings, before rapidly losing power in the mountains that rise up along the Pacific coast.

by VICE News
Oct 24 2015, 3:05pm

A handout picture made available by NASA on 24 October 2015 shows a NOAA's GOES-West satellite image of Hurricane Patricia as it headed for landfall along the western coast of Mexico, 23 October 2015. (NASA/NOAA Handout Via EPA)

Hurricane Patricia's was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday morning, but not before it wreaked havoc on the coast of western Mexico Friday evening, when the category 5 storm made landfall packing winds that reached 165 mph.

The storm's impact on land has been less severe than initially thought, but it still knocked down trees, flooded streets, and battered buildings, before rapidly losing power in the mountains that rise up along the Pacific coast.

The storm hit land near the area of Cuixmala, home to one of Mexico's most exclusive resorts, at 6:15 pm on Friday, the US National Hurricane Center said. Footage in one video shows dark clouds swirling over a resort as violent waves pushed inland. 

President Enrique Pena Nieto stated in a televised address on Friday that Mexicans need to take precautions, and warned that the storm still posed a serious risk.

"The initial reports confirm that damage has been less than would be expected of a hurricane of this magnitude," Pena Nieto said. "But we cannot lower our guard yet."

Patricia crashed violently into coastal areas, but skirted major cities and population centers.

"It sparked chaos here, it ruined a lot of things, took down the roof, lots of trees. Things are in a bad state where we work," said Domingo Hernandez, a hotel worker in the resort of Barra de Navidad near to the major port of Manzanillo.

Thousands of residents and tourists have been relocated to improvised shelters, and there were no early reports of fatalities. Cuixmala, which is located between the major port of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta, is sparsely populated and has small towns, but the degree of damage is so far unclear. Over the years, it has hosted a number of world leaders and billionaires.

The government cautioned that ash and other material from the volcano of Colima, some 130 miles from Puerto Vallarta, could combine with heavy rainfall to trigger liquid cement-style mudflows that could smother villages.

Though the storm is weakening, Patricia was expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 8 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches, over the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, and Guerrero through Saturday, the Hurricane Center said.

While the storm lost power before coming ashore, its magnitude as a category 5 storm placed it in the strongest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale, a rare occurrence capable of causing massive destruction. To date, the strongest storm on record was Cyclone Tip, which hit Japan in 1979.

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