Saturday, October 24, 2015 11:03 am
Mowing down trees, flooding streets and battering buildings, Hurricane Patricia ploughed into Mexico as a Category 5 storm on Friday before grinding inland, where it began to lose power in the mountains that rise up along the Pacific coast.
Around 15,000 tourists were hurriedly evacuated from the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta as people scrambled to get away from the advancing hurricane, whose massive swirl over Mexico could be seen clearly from space.
“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 ended up in hastily improvised shelters but there were no early reports of fatalities and many felt they had escaped lightly.
At one point generating sustained winds of 200 miles per hour (322 km per hour), Patricia was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.
It then lost much of its power as it careened onto Mexican soil northwest of Manzanillo and by early on Saturday it had been downgraded to a Category 2 storm with winds of up to around 100 mph.
In a brief televised address late on Friday, President Enrique Pena Nieto urged Mexicans to remain watchful and take precautions, warning that the storm which weather forecasters had said could cause catastrophic damage still posed a serious risk.