The rapid development of Hurricane Patricia is as astounding as the intensity. This NOAA and NASA jing satellite image was taken as peak intensity was measured, but it has sustained that all morning. A mere 24 hours between 5 AM EDT on Oct 22 to 5 AM Oct 23 the National Hurricane Center recorded a change of wind speed from 85 mph to 200 mph. Wind gusts were up to 245 mph! This shattered the old record for the eastern north Pacific set by Linda in 1997 making this the strongest in the Western Hemisphere and among the top in the world. Linda was also an El Nino year, but that storm had winds of 185 mph. The central pressure then bottomed out at 902mb. As of this morning, Patricia has maintained a low pressure of 880mb for over six hours.
The true measure of a storm’s strength is the air pressure. The lower or deeper the air pressure, the stronger the pull or force bringing air and moisture in towards the center. The result is the wind speed. Below is a comparison of the top storms based on the lowest air pressure in each designated region around the world listed from strongest at the top. Patricia is number 3 on the list. I want to point out that hurricanes are called typhoons and cyclones in different parts of the world. They are the same type of storm, just local preference to title, so I didn’t want to include it in the chart. Only the name is posted for simplicity. Also note the recent years. Hurricane research and documentation has improved dramatically with satellites and reconnaissance aircraft flying into storms. There are still remote storms missed and many early in the 20th century that were not thoroughly documented.
|1||870 mb||Tip||Oct. 1979||Western Pacific|
|2||879 mb||Monica||April 2006||Australia|
|3||880 mb||Patricia||Oct 23 2015||East North Pacific|
|Old record||902 mb||Linda||Sep 1997||East North Pacific|
|4||882 mb||Wilma||Oct 2005||North Atlantic|
|5||885 mb||Daryl||Nov 1995||South Indian Ocean|
|6||890 mb||Zoe||Dec 2002||South Pacific|
|7||895 mb||Gafilo||Mar 2004||SW Indian Ocean|
|8||912 mb||Bob 06||Nov 1999||Bay of Bengal- Indian Ocean|
|9||920 mb||Gonu||Jun 2007||Arabian Sea- Indian Ocean|
|10||972 mb||Catarina||Mar 2004||South Atlantic|
Storm Surge: This is subjected to time of high or low tide. The wall of water could easily be 30 to 40 feet (or more). Note that Katrina had a 27.8 foot storm surge in Pass Christian, MS and that was a weakening category 3 storm.
This chart of the Saffir-Simpson Scale shows the expected storm surge, or wall of water pushed on shore just ahead of the eye wall. Hurricane Patricia is well off the chart, so anything 18 Ft or high (or much higher in this case) would be utterly catastrophic.
This is a rare breed of storm and if you were to compare to a tornado, would be like an EF-5. However the strongest tornadoes are a mile or so wide and have a lifespan of minutes to an hour. This super hurricane has those wind speeds over a wider area, and lasting longer (at landfall). The entire hurricane force wind field extends out 30 miles from the center, but decreases farther away. Winds of tropical storm force reach 175 miles from the center. It can be said this is a 350 mile wide storm, but most of that area is not going to experience the top winds. But for argument sake, check out this EF Scale Chart for tornado damage and extrapolate that on a larger scale for a longer time.
Current data is limited for this part of the world. Even though this is between the large resort cities of Acapulco and Puerto Valarta, finding a weather radar link is hard to come by. Old links to Mexico weather radar that I use to have are not active, and there are limited buoys to measure the wave heights. But I will continue to search for available resources to share. The storm will lose a lot of it’s wind intensity in the high mountains, but will continue to track north into Texas leading to more flooding into next week.
Latest National Hurricane Center update at 11 AM EDT:
No change in strength. The movement has turned north and it will continue to curve to the right for a landfall by tonight.
ABOUT 125 MI…200 KM SW OF MANZANILLO MEXICO
ABOUT 195 MI…310 KM S OF CABO CORRIENTES MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…200 MPH…325 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…N OR 5 DEGREES AT 10 MPH…17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…880 MB…25.99 INCHES
Rainfall: 8-12 inches. Up to 20 in the mountains
Wave Heights Offshore: I would not be surprised if the mention of 60 to 100 Ft waves surfaces from credible sources. Historically strong storms can produce that, but I would feel more comfortable with certified data before promoting that as fact with Patricia.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
The Tropical Storm Warning area has been expanded.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* San Blas to Punta San Telmo
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* East of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* East of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas
* North of San Blas to El Roblito
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