Mega-storm Patricia downgrades

  • 25/10/2015

Record-breaking Hurricane Patricia has weakened to a tropical storm over north-central Mexico, dumping heavy rain that triggered flooding and landslides but so far causing less damage than feared.

Streets were flooded in some parts of the country on Saturday (local time) and hundreds of trees were uprooted after Patricia came ashore in the Pacific coast state of Jalisco late on Friday as a massive Category Five hurricane.

Patricia gradually lost steam as it moved further inland overnight and was downgraded to a tropical storm in the morning, with maximum sustained winds of 80 km/h, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

But the storm was expected to produce up to 51 centimetres of rain over the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, and Guerrero, which were likely to produce flash floods and mudslides, the centre said.

Patricia had grown into the strongest hurricane ever recorded hours before reaching the coast, raising fears that it would bring death and destruction across the country.

But President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Friday that the first reports "confirm that the damage has been smaller than that corresponding to a hurricane of this magnitude."

While no casualties were reported, Pena Nieto urged Mexicans to stay in shelters as Patricia was expected to dump more rain in central and northeastern Mexico.


"We can't let our guard down yet," he cautioned in a televised address.

Before Patricia slammed the coast, authorities relocated coastal residents, evacuated tourists from beach hotels and closed sea ports, airports and schools in several states.


Forecasters had warned of a "potential catastrophe" after Patricia's winds peaked at 325 kilometres per hour on Friday - more powerful than the 315 km/h winds of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7350 dead or missing when it struck the Philippines in November 2013.

Officials in the Pacific coast states of Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit have only reported material damaged so far.

Dozens of modest homes in the village of Chemula were blown away by Patricia's powerful winds after it made landfall in Jalisco state late Friday (local time).

The villagers survived the hurricane because they evacuated before landfall, which occurred just 20km to the south.

Officials said no casualties have been reported.

"So far, there are no reports of major damage from #Patricia. Our gratitude to all for your thoughts, prayers and actions #PrayForMexico," President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter.

Patricia tore down trees, triggered some flooding and caused minor landslides elsewhere in Jalisco and neighbouring Colima state.


In Jalisco, which bore the brunt of the hurricane, some rivers rose, damaging a bridge and some 250 homes in one community of 600 people, said state government secretary general Roberto Lopez Lara.

"All the forecasts predicted the worst," Lopez Lara said. "We do not have any deaths."

But authorities urged Mexicans to remain on alert as Patricia continued to produce rain on its path north.

Patricia gradually lost steam as it moved further inland overnight, but a "heavy rain threat continues", the US National Hurricane Center said.