Mexico was on alert Friday before the arrival of Patricia hurricane, the strongest ever recorded in the Americas, ranked Category 5 and “potentially catastrophic”, with risks of floods and landslides.
The authorities have displaced residents, closed ports and schools, and asked tourists to cancel their trip in the area while the hurricane is expected to affect the Mexican Pacific coast in the late afternoon in Jalisco (west) .
“This is a devastating hurricane, the largest ever recorded, which is why we must take extreme caution,” said the Interior Minister Angel Osorio Chong on Radio Formula.
Meteorologists say the hurricane is expected to reach the Mexican coast between the major port of Manzanillo and the tourist town of Puerto Vallarta, which could be hit hard.
All shops were closed in Puerto Vallarta and owners calfeutraient their windows.
“I distributed the tapes to people who were not prepared,” said Ramiro Arias, owner of a frame shop. “We are procrastinators. We need to see before reacting. ”
People waiting at a bus station in an attempt to take one of the last buses leaving the city while others were buying water or loaded their vehicle gas cans.
A steady rain fell on the coast since Thursday evening when Patricia approaches with winds of 325 km / h, according to the hurricane center in Miami monitoring.
This is the “most powerful hurricane ever recorded” in the Atlantic and the northeast Pacific, he said.
At 15 pm GMT (11 am in Montreal), Patricia was 200 kilometers southwest of Manzanillo and was moving northwest at a speed of 17 km / h, according to meteorologists.
Patricia is expected to bring rainfall of up to 51 cm in the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán and Guerrero, which could generate landslides.
“Changes in intensity are still possible today, but Patricia is expected to remain extremely dangerous Category 5,” experts say in a statement to 12 pm GMT.
In Manzanillo, many shops had already closed, AFP noted a team.
“It is better to be safe than sorry. Hurricanes are unpredictable, “said Enrique Esparza, head of a furniture store on the waterfront, it was just closing.
“We hurry to get back home to seal our windows with wooden boards,” said Elba Rosa Figueroa, housewife, leaving the supermarket with a bag full of provisions, water and batteries.
An employee of a beachfront restaurant carries a table while trade is preparing to close its doors due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Patricia, Puerto Vallarta, October 22.
400 000 people threatened
Jose Maria Tapia Franco, director of the National Disaster Fund, noted that 400,000 people were living in precarious conditions in the sector.
In the village of Boca de Pascuales, the authorities put 70 people to safety, while 30 others left the coast to get to the interior with relatives.
“We carry out patrols with the locals in the area of Puerto Vallarta, as well as La Huerta Melague and to convince the most vulnerable to shelter,” said on TV the head of civil protection State of Jalisco, Jose Trinidad Lopez Rivas.
In Colima, the people living around the volcano were evacuated for fear that the ash accumulated during the recent eruptions could cause landslides.
The authorities mobilized emergency and ordered the closure of schools in the states of Jalisco, Colima and Guerrero.
According to the government, 1800 shelters are available, capable of hosting 259,000 people.
The ports were closed in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Michoacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca. One of Acapulco, in the state of Guerrero, is also to large boats.
Initially classified Tropical Storm Patricia was reclassified as a hurricane Thursday morning by Hurricane Watch Center in Miami.
In 2013, two almost simultaneous storms had affected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico, killing 157 people.