Parts of Mexico are at risk of major floods and landslides after Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm recorded in the Americas, made landfall.
The storm touched down in western Mexico, bringing destructive winds and rain, but heavy damage appears to have been avoided. The US National Hurricane Center said the hurricane hit as a Category Five storm – the highest classification. It said “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides” were now likely.
The states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, and Guerrero are in particular danger as the storm moves inland, the centre says. Four hours after making landfall as the strongest recorded hurricane, Patricia weakened to a category four, and is likely to be downgraded to a tropical storm in the coming hours as it passes over mountainous regions.
“The first reports confirm that the damage has been smaller than that corresponding to a hurricane of this magnitude,” Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto, said in a televised address. Mexican federal police said only “minor landslides” had so far been reported in Colima. But the government has warned that ash from the Colima volcano, which has become increasingly active this year, could combine with heavy rainfall to trigger huge mudflows.
Some 400,000 people live in vulnerable areas, according to Mexico’s National Disaster Fund.