ShelterBox is monitoring the course of Hurricane Patricia, expected to make landfall later today – evacuations and port closures are in progress along Mexico’s Pacific coast. The US National Hurricane Centre has described the category five storm as ‘potentially catastrophic’.
International disaster relief agency ShelterBox is closely monitoring events on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where a state of emergency has been declared across three states as Hurricane Patricia approaches. Wind speeds of up to 185 mph have already been reported by the EU’s emergency response co-ordination centre, in what is said to be the Pacific’s largest hurricane since 1997.
James Luxton, ShelterBox Operations Team Lead, says, ‘We will continue to monitor, and utilise our in-country contacts in Mexico, to be ready to react if required. We are preparing a response team, and will have them on standby.’
‘This is a significant Hurricane, but at this stage it is hard to gauge at what strength it will make landfall. Predictions are anywhere between category 3 to 5.’
In October last year ShelterBox responded to a force 3 to 4 hurricane in Mexico, but on that occasion found that the Mexican government and in-country NGOs were well prepared with an adequate response.
Patricia formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean three days ago. It started moving west, intensifying, and gradually turning northwest parallel to the Mexican coast. The hurricane is now forecast to approach the coasts of Colima and Jalisco States later today, making landfall between Cabo Corrientes and Manzanillo.
Mexican authorities have begun moving residents and closing ports. Some 400,000 people live in the hurricane’s potential path, according to Mexico’s National Disaster Fund. It could bring torrential rain, triggering flash floods and mudslides, with the possibility of coastal flooding in areas popular with tourists. Shops and businesses are boarding up their windows in Manzanillo as rain has started to fall.
At the beach village of Boca de Pascuales authorities have taken 70 people to a shelter. ‘We are patrolling communities on the coast in the Puerto Vallarta area as well as Melaque and La Huerta, urging the most vulnerable population to get to safety,’ Jalisco state civil protection director Jose Trinidad Lopez Rivas told local television. Schools have been closed, and two dams in Jalisco and Michoacan are being drained.