Hurricane Patricia became the strongest storm ever measured on the planet early Friday, with experts warning it could trigger 40-foot waves along Mexico's coast and life-threatening flooding, according to an NBC report, which added that Patricia was expected to arrive on Mexico's Pacific coast late Friday afternoon or early evening. The tourist destination of Puerto Vallarta is directly in the Category 5 storm's projected path, the article claimed.
With 200 mph winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center described Patricia as the "strongest hurricane on record" in the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific, a claim echoed by NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins, who warned that Patricia “should break [the] record of strongest typhoon/hurricane at landfall ever recorded on our planet.”
Concerning when the storm arrives over land, the National Hurricane Center predicted that Patricia is "heading for potentially catastrophic landfall in southwestern Mexico later today," adding that the storm is “expected to remain an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane through landfall.” Up to 20 inches of rain was predicted for the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero through Saturday, the NHC claimed.
Only one Category 5 hurricane has ever been known to make landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast, the Weather Channel reported, adding that the previous hurricane, which occurred in October 1959 and followed a path similar to that of Hurricane Patricia, struck near Puerto Vallarta and caused some 1,800 deaths.
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With Patricia less than 24 hours away from landfall, the Weather Channel added, this is the first time a Category 5 hurricane has posed an imminent threat to land in North America since Hurricane Felix approached Nicaragua in September 2007.
The Mexican government has declared a state of emergency, according to NBC.