Hurricane Patricia — although technically a cyclone because of obscure naming traditions regarding storms in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans — just made history.
A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane measured Patricia’s wind speed at 200 mph, and its barometric pressure at 880 mb.
The wind speed is the fastest sustained speed ever recorded by a storm, and its pressure is the second-lowest ever, a number not seen anywhere in over 30 years. More amazingly, it was just a tropical storm yesterday, growing to a Category 5 in 24 hours. Nuts.
The U.S. Hurricane Center is not messing around when it describes the cyclone, calling for “potentially catastrophic landfall in southwestern Mexico.” The storm could hit anywhere on the Pacific coast of Mexico between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.
The best comparison to Patricia, which blows away even Katrina, is Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013 with wind speeds of 195 mph. That storm killed over 6,000 people.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall in the next 12 hours.