How did Mexico dodge Patricia?

  • 25/10/2015

Mexico dodged a bullet when monster Hurricane Patricia failed to live up to its threat of devastating huge swaths of the country. What saved Mexicans?

Experts say Mexico was saved from widespread destruction in big part thanks to the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains, which slowed Patricia's wrath.

The coastal region where it made landfall in western Jalisco state is also sparsely populated by fishing village, whose residents had evacuated to shelters.

The preventive evacuations by the authorities played an important role, along with a lower pressure in the north that affected Patricia's trajectory.

Patricia struck the Pacific coast as a massive Category Five hurricane late on Friday (local time), but almost 24 hours later President Enrique Pena Nieto declared that no major damage was detected.

Dozens of small homes were flattened in Chamela, a fishing village in Jalisco state, and 250 more were hit by floods elsewhere.

But it was not the widespread devastation expected for a hurricane that packed a record 325km/h winds before it made landfall.

When Patricia struck the coast, its winds slowed to 270km/h, and gradually lost steam as it moved inland.

Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said Mexico was "lucky" that Patricia took a last minute turn and struck the Sierra Madre.

"Nature was kind-hearted," he said.

Pier Luigi Vidale, professor of climate system science at Britain's University of Reading, said the radius of Patricia's maximum winds was extremely small at 12 kilometers, "so it fit very well in the space" between the towns of Campo Acosta and La Barra de Navidad.

"The issue is exposure: luckily, it made landfall in a rather uninhabited region," he said.