To reach Category 5, a hurricane must have sustained wind speeds of over 157 mphs. Right now, in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Patricia is powering through at about 200mph. It’s likely the strongest hurricane on the record, and a gigantic storm to boot. The National Weather Service is warning that Patricia is “potentially catastrophic.” Here’s what that storm looks like:
Patricia is expected to make landfall in Mexico later today, between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. Already three Mexican states have declared a state of emergency.
As the storm has approached land, it’s continued to intensify, and by all metrics is an incredibly strong storm. Writing for Slate, Eric Holthaus notes “Patricia is now very close to the theoretical maximum strength for a tropical cyclone on planet Earth.”
The storm is strongest in a radius just 15 miles from its center, which bodes well for everyone removed from the direct path. It’s also headed into hilly and mountainous terrain, which will likely weaken the storm quickly as it moves over land. Before it hits, increased rainfall, of which the National Weather Service expects at least 8 inches, could cause flooding and landslides.
Landfall is expected later today.