Hurricane Patricia made landfall in the Mexican Pacific coast on Friday night, Oct. 23, primarily affecting the state of Jalisco. Despite being the strongest landfilling Pacific hurricane on record, it left comparatively little damage.
Patricia was a category five hurricane, which is the strongest category in the Saffir– Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The magnitude of the hurricane is considered “catastrophic,” according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The Center also predicted that Patricia would have the same intensity as Typhoon Haiyan, a cyclone that devastated the Philippines in November 2013.
Even though this hurricane was one of the most dangerous in history, there were few casualties reported.
The hurricane made landfall in a less populated area between two more populated areas: Puerto Vallarta, a tourist hotspot, and Manzanillo, a seaport town. Because there were fewer people to evacuate, this reduced the number of potential casualties.
So far, six people have died and seven people were injured. Four casualties were caused by a traffic accident, according to Fox News Latino, crushed the other two.
In comparison, Hurricane Katrina resulted in 1,833 fatalities, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Despite its record- breaking wind speed, Patricia quickly lost energy because of its small size. It also weakened prior to landfall, and continued to lose strength on land because of Mexico’s mountains. Mexico’s mass evacuations of populated areas are also credited for the high survival rate.
The National Hurricane Center reported that Patricia had winds of 200 mph. Between Friday evening and early Saturday morning, Patricia was downgraded from a category five hurricane to a tropical depression, according to ABC News.
Aristoteles Sandoval, Jalisco state governor, said to the citizens of Jalisco that “the hardest part is over.”
Residents and businesses prepared themselves before Patricia’s landfall. They used sandbags and covered windows with boards and tape to reinforce their homes. Airports temporarily closed and hotels evacuated tourists to shelters further inland, according to USA Today.
Miguel Martinez, senior business administration major, is from Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua. Martinez said that Mexico was well prepared for the hurricane.
“I believe the country had good prevention measures for the affected states and they have done a lot to be ready just in case this was going to be a major catastrophe,” Martinez said.
Patricia left behind flooded homes, raging rivers and fallen trees. Civil protection and Mexican navy officers were ready to manage the damage and help affected residents. They opened temporary shelters and kitchens and provided transportation to people located in dangerous areas, according to USA Today.
The National Hurricane Center warned of torrential rains in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima and Michoacán which could produce flash floods and mudslides. Israel Hernandez, junior electrical engineering major from Michoacán, said that his state was not affected as badly as he thought.
“In my city there were only light showers, and we’re used to rain,” Hernandez said.
Ana Villalba, senior mechanical engineering major from Chihuahua, said that the government is doing its best in order to bring things back to normal in the state.
“Since it affected the beach area of the state, I think it will take a while before they can offer a nice and safe place for tourists, nationals and internationals. For now, the government in Jalisco needs to focus on helping to repair what the storm destroyed,” Villalba said.