Hurricane Patricia swept over the coast of Mexico on Saturday, October 24. Though severe, students at the American School Foundation of Guadalajara (ASFG) report that the storm was not particularly frightening for them.
Formed in the eastern Pacific starting October 20, the hurricane quickly escalated to Category 5 – the highest level – on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. According to meteorologists, it was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. With sustained winds up to 200 miles per hour, even stronger than the winds of Hurricane Katrina and Wilma, Patricia caused severe flooding up to 20 inches and devastated the west coast of Mexico including the cities of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.
Fortunately for residents of Guadalajara, the storm began dissipating once it reached the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range to the west of the city. According to USA Today, the city “was… mostly unscathed from the system’s wrath.”
Vania Alvarez, a sophomore at ASFG, told JSR, “Everyone was so hysterical when they gave us the warning that Hurricane Patricia was going to come. I wasn’t really scared though. I knew that nothing bad was going to happen to us.”
Manuel Arias, also a sophomore, said, “I was in my house while Hurricane Patricia was happening. I was initially a little bit scared but the hurricane wasn’t as severe in Guadalajara as it was in Manzanillo or other places. It just rained the whole weekend but that was it. I’m so glad nothing severe happened.”
The Wikipedia entry on the storm lists eight fatalities directly related to the storm, and Mexican authorities have been praised for immediately evacuating citizens from the tourist areas of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. More than 1200 shelters were set up to accommodate 240,000 people, and flights to the respective cities were canceled throughout the weekend.
After the storm, President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted, “What happens next is the recovery phase, to secure the reestablishment of public services.”