UPDATE: Hurricane Patricia has made landfall in Mexico’s Jalisco province in which major tourist destination Puerto Vallarta is situated. Hundreds of thousands of people are said to be in its path.
Storms lie ahead. Nothing strange in that, it is just a difference in scale. As the British news media gets its figurative knickers in a twist (USA translation ‘panties in a bunch’) about the country being on storm alert, the people of Mexico are facing the threat of a hurricane said to be the strongest ever in either the eastern Pacific or the Atlantic.
Apparently, shock horror, Britain is bracing itself to be battered by torrential rain and gales that will accompany temperatures as low as -4C (25F). Well, that should give them something to talk about – after all the weather is one of the favourite subjects of their conversations. (And don’t bother even thinking about taking issue with me for making such a generalisation; remember, I am a Brit).
Wind speed alone puts these two events of nature into perspective as “This weekend will see 60mph winds while downpours will threaten flooding in parts of Britain.” That’s obviously serious headline news; well, let’s look a bit further westward. There we can see that Hurricane Patricia, has sustained wind speeds of up to 200mph. Now, that IS a storm.
Hurricane Patricia has been designated as a category 5, the worst possible. Its power is similar to that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines two years ago, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation.
So, while the British ‘brace’ themselves for a supposedly wintry storm, those unfortunate enough to be living in the path of Hurricane Patricia have been warned by the US Hurricane Center to expect it to make a potentially catastrophic landfall.
Homes are being boarded up, doors are being sandbagged to try and prevent flooding and people are rushing to stores to buy non-perishable foods as emergency provisions. A State of Emergency has been declared in Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit. An estimated 50,000 people are being evacuated from the areas considered most at risk.
The Hurricane Center, which is based in Miami, has also said that preparations should be completed quickly, warning that Hurricane Patricia could cause coastal flooding, destructive waves and flash floods. A powerful storm surge is expected to make a severe impact, followed by heavy rain over the mountains with the rainwater draining back to the already flooded lowlands. “First it will get the saltwater flood and then, as that goes away, the freshwater flood will come,” said one US television weather forecaster.
It is expected to hit the Mexican coast, somewhere around Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo areas during Friday afternoon or evening, local time, which means late evening or very early hours of the morning for readers in Britain or mainland Europe.
Talking of Britain, although the storm expected there is so minor in the scale of things, one thing can easily be predicted; no matter how accurate the warnings and predictions, neither the authorities nor the people will be prepared.