Latin America & Caribbean

Storm Patricia weakens over Mexico but risks remain

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionStorm remnants dump rain on Texas

Hurricane Patricia has weakened rapidly over Mexico but authorities have warned of the risks of floods and landslides as it dumps heavy rain.

Patricia was the strongest storm ever recorded in the Americas when it ploughed into Mexico but has since been downgraded to a tropical depression.

Damage has been less than feared with populous regions spared.

But Patricia is still forecast to dump up to 20in (50cm) of rain, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"These rains are likely to produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC added.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his gratitude on Twitter to the Mexican people for their thoughts, prayers and actions after Patricia caused far less damage than feared.

Before Patricia struck the coast, thousands of residents and tourists on Mexico's Pacific coast were evacuated and moved inland.

The storm made landfall in western Mexico on Friday, uprooting trees and flooding streets.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The force of the wind uprooted trees
Image copyright AP
Image caption Some houses were inundated
Image copyright AP
Image caption Protective boarding put up as Patricia approached has been taken down

But mountainous regions helped Patricia lose power. It is currently heading across central and north-east Mexico.

No casualties have been reported so far, with the storm avoiding direct hits on major cities or tourist resorts.

At the scene: Katy Watson, BBC News, Melaque, Jalisco state

For a town that bore the brunt of Hurricane Patricia, the reality of the storms is better than what everyone feared.

There is a huge signpost that has fallen into the middle of the road and the petrol station sign made of concrete has been pulled over too.

People are clearing up, replacing roof tiles and removing trees from streets. Even the electricity company is wasting no time in repairing the pylons split in half by the storm.

One teenager I spoke to said he was not scared - this part of Mexico is used to strong storms during hurricane season. Not everyone agrees.

One lady told me she thought it was the end of the world when it hit.

"Fortunately the damages weren't so severe," said the Daniel Nunez from the Red Cross in Jalisco state. "We can conclude up to this point that there's no major losses."

"For being the most powerful hurricane in the world, I think we came out okay," Cristian Arias, a seafood restaurant owner in Colima state told the AFP agency.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Streets have been flooded but the worst fears have not materialised
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Major tourist areas, such as Puerto Vallarta, were spared the worst

But President Pena Nieto warned: "We cannot let our guard down yet.''

The states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, and Guerrero are in particular danger from the high rainfall expected on Saturday, the NHC said.

Mexican federal police said only "minor landslides and fallen trees" had so far been reported in Colima.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionVideo shows full force of Hurricane Patricia

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.

In the US, areas of southern Texas, already suffering with heavy rains, are likely to be affected as the remnants of the storm move northward.

At the scene: James Cook, BBC News, Emilio Zapata, Mexico

Mexico's escape from catastrophe involved a little luck and a lot of planning.

Luck because the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Americas swept ashore on a sparsely-populated stretch of coastline, avoiding two big cities: the resort of Puerto Vallarta and the port of Manzanillo.

Planning because the swirling, menacing cloud of moisture was so powerful that it prompted a rapid and thorough response from government and aid agencies as well as locals and tourists.

Meteorologists are already studying this phenomenal storm, trying to figure out why it developed so explosively, so fast.

For now Mexicans are just glad they were ready for it.

The raw power of nature may have met its match in the people of Mexico, who today are mending not mourning.

Some of the most powerful storms in recent years

  • October 1979: Typhoon Tip - largest and most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded with wind speeds of 305km/h (190mph), killed 99 people in its path across the Pacific, mostly in Japan
  • August 1980: Hurricane Allen - strongest Atlantic hurricane by wind speed, with sustained winds of 305km/h, caused nearly 300 deaths in Haiti and severe damage in the US state of Texas
  • April 1991: Bangladesh cyclone known as 02B - at least 138,000 died and up to 10 million made homeless after a 6m storm surge
  • October 1991: Odisha or Paradip cyclone - the strongest ever recorded in the northern Indian Ocean, killed about 10,000 people, mostly in India
  • August 2005: Hurricane Katrina - killed at least 1,836 people after striking US states of Louisiana and Mississippi and was the costliest storm in history, causing $81.2bn in damage (with wind speeds of 280km/h)
  • October 2005: Hurricane Wilma - most intense tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin with wind speeds of 295km/h, killing 87 people on its path through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico
  • November 2013: Typhoon Haiyan - the strongest storm recorded at landfall, with one-minute sustained wind speeds of 315km/h, it devastated parts of the Philippines, killing at least 6,300 people

Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are all part of the same weather phenomenon but different names are used depending on where the storms are formed. Hurricanes form east of the International Date Line, while typhoons and cyclones form to the west.

Related Topics

More on this story