Hurricane Patricia weakens to tropical storm over Mexico
Hurricane Patricia pushed rapidly inland over mountainous western Mexico early Saturday, rapidly weakening to tropical storm force while dumping torrential rains that authorities warned could cause deadly floods and mudslides.
Patricia, which peaked as the strongest hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere, made landfall Friday on a sparsely populated stretch of Mexico’s Pacific coast as a Category 5 storm, avoiding direct hits on the resort city of Puerto Vallarta and major port city of Manzanillo.
There were early reports of some flooding and landslides, but no word of fatalities or major damage as the storm moved over inland mountains overnight. Television news reports from the coast showed toppled trees and lampposts, and inundated streets. Milenio TV carried footage of cars and buses being swept by floodwaters in the state of Jalisco.
“The first reports confirm that the damage has been less than those expected from a hurricane of this magnitude,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said in a taped address late Friday. He added, however, that “we cannot yet let our guard down.”
Patricia weakened to a Category 1 hurricane Saturday morning with maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h and was expected to dissipate over Mexico’s inland mountains, becoming a tropical storm later in the day. Its centre was about 80 kilometres southwest of Zacatecas, Mexico.
By 7:15 a.m. ET, Patricia had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with winds gusting to 80 km/h.