Climate

The ‘Strongest Hurricane’ In History Is Heading Towards Mexico

CREDIT: via The Weather Channel

Hurricane Patricia is bearing down on Mexico.

With winds reaching 200 miles an hour, Patricia is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, according to The Weather Channel. It is expected to hit the west coast of Mexico by late Friday afternoon.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Patricia would be “potentially catastrophic.” It is comparable in strength to Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines in 2013.

Generally speaking, the globe is experiencing more extreme weather events. A graph of natural catastrophes over the last century shows a clear rise in number of meteorological and hydrological (storms and floods) events.

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Scientists have connected worsening storms to rising temperatures.

“Rising sea levels exacerbated Sandy’s storm surge, for example, a direct link between global warming and storm damage. And abnormally high sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic probably intensified the storm,” writes NASA.

Patricia is tied to this year’s unusually strong El Niño event. During an El Niño warmer waters in the Pacific move easterly toward the Americas, and trade winds along the equator lessen or even reverse direction. This can actually lessen the likelihood of strong Atlantic storms, but — as Mexico and the Philippines have seen — it has the reverse effect in the Pacific. Warm water — whether from El Niño or climate change — can strengthen hurricane wind speeds.

While scientists cannot prove causation of storms on climate change, a study published this summer looked at the critical question of whether the changing climate is exacerbating extreme weather patterns. The researchers found that it is.

The president of Mexico on Monday took to Twitter to issue public warnings and update the public on civil response.

“No hurricane of this magnitude has ever impacted Pacific Mexico.”

“Ahead of the trajectory and intensity of Hurricane Patricia, I instructed @pcSEGOB and @CONAGA_mx to keep the public informed,” he said. “I also ordered help to state authorities to reinforce prevention efforts.”

The hurricane is expected to make landfall in the Mexican state of Jalisco, home to 7.5 million people. Most residents live in the inland state capital of Guadalajara.

Previous hurricanes of this size have taken immense tolls on human life and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.