Hurricane Patricia is bearing down on Mexico’s central Pacific Coast for what forecasters said could be a devastating blow, as officials began handing out sandbags in preparation for possible flooding.
In Manzanillo, one of the country’s principal ports, Luz Adriana Limon Rojas of Colima state’s civil defence agency said skies were still calm, if cloudy, and no evacuation orders had been issued.
But with the storm forecast to make landfall on Friday as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, neighbourhood officials had begun picking up sandbags and Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s civil defence coordinator, said schools would be closed in Colima.
The neighbouring state of Jalisco activated an emergency protocol, and Mexico’s National Water Commission recommended that small craft avoid navigating the waters of the area.
The US National Hurricane Centre in Miami warned that preparations should be rushed to completion, saying the storm could cause coastal flooding and flash floods.
Patricia’s maximum sustained winds have increased to 130mph, already Category 4 strength, and forecasters said it could grow even stronger before slamming into land. The projected track would carry it onshore between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.
Patricia was centred about 240 miles south-south west of Lazaro Cardenas, with movement toward the west-north west at 17mph.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the Mexican coast from Cabo Corrientes to Punta San Telmo, a stretch of coastline that includes Manzanillo. A broader area was under hurricane watch, tropical storm warning, or tropical storm watch.