Hurricane Patricia touched down along the western coast of Mexico on Friday, October 23. Officials anticipated the storm to have catastrophic consequences for the country; the most powerful on record, Category Five storm had sustained winds of 165 miles per hour on land and held the potential to devastate densely populated resort towns as it moved inland. Patricia managed to topple power lines, uproot trees, and unleash mudslides across parts of the developing country.
By late Saturday afternoon, the storm had been downgraded to an area of low air pressure, but Mexico remained wary. The country was fortunate that Patricia moved through mountainous regions of the coast, as the rugged terrain broke up the large low pressure zone that fueled the storm. Ultimately, the storm lost power as it dissipated through the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains.
Officials credit the well-being of the country to both the preventative evacuations and good luck; in the words of Roberto Sandaval, governor of Nayarit state, “We as government are not supposed to mention faith and God, but the only thing I can tell you is that God helped and watched over us so this monster of a hurricane did not hurt us here in Nayarit and in Mexico.” The country has remained notably positive in light of the hurricane; Patricia avoided the nearby resort town Puerto Vallarta and integral shipping port Manzanillo. In such a case, the results of the hurricane could have been notably more expensive to the country.
Thousands of people were evacuated from nearby towns, but the storm ultimately touched down at Cuixmala—a private 25,000-acre estate of beach, jungle, and nature reserves. The estate itself has been relatively undisturbed; in an interview with CNN, a representative from the estate stated that “The rain is intense and the wind picks up at times for about five minutes, then subsides. It comes and goes.” While Cuixmala has fared relatively well, authorities fear for nearby low-income areas where building regulations are lax.
Anthony Perez, a representative for Save the Children in Mexico, stated that “The rain is intense and the wind picks up at times for about five minutes, then subsides. It comes and goes.” Between the oceanside resorts and impoverished villages, many families may encounter dramatic losses as a consequence of the storm, regardless of its diminished strength. President Peña Nieto has urged Mexico to stay conscious of the dangers of Patricia; “we still can’t let our guard down.” Security forces have continued to patrol villages to ensure the safety of the population and protect homes.
Hurricane Patricia has proven to be far less detrimental to coastal Mexico than anticipated, but the repercussions of such a storm are bound to be powerful in a country that is so underdeveloped. There is still potential for the storm to cause fatalities and damage to infrastructure despite losing wind speed as it moves inland; the country continues to be in danger of flash flooding and mudslides. However, the public remains optimistic that Patricia will not be the disaster that was forecasted.