Monster Cat 5 Hurricane Patricia Strongest Ever Recorded Menaces Millions in Mexico; Seen from ISS

“Hurricane #Patricia approaches #Mexico. It’s massive. Be careful” in this image taken by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the ISS on Oct. 23, 2015. Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly
More images and videos below[/caption]

Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm in recorded history with winds exceeding 190 mph (305 km/h) is right now menacing millions in Mexico after suddenly intensifying with little warning over the past day, threatening widespread catastrophic destruction as it barrels towards frightened residents along the nations Pacific coast and makes landfall this evening, Friday, Oct. 23.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly captured striking photos, above and below, of Hurricane Patricia this afternoon from aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Other NASA and NOAA weather satellites are actively monitoring and measuring the strongest storm on the planet right now.

“Hurricane #Patricia approaches #Mexico. It’s massive. Be careful,” Kelly wrote on his twitter account with a pair of images taken from the ISS.

Patricia unexpectedly intensified quite rapidly to a Category 5 storm from a tropical storm in the space of just 24 hours from yesterday to today with the significant potential for loss of life and likely widespread catastrophic damage.

This morning Patricia had sustained winds of 190 mph (305 km/h) , on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with gusts up to 235 mph. That’s comparable to an EF-4 tornado, but its much wider.

Weather forecasters say that unusually warm waters, possibly from the current El Niño weather pattern may be causing the rapid intensification of the storm to unprecedented power never before seen.

On Oct. 23 at 17:30 UTC (1:30 p.m. EDT) NASA's Terra satellite saw the eastern quadrant of Hurricane Patricia over Mexico and the storm's pinhole eye.  Credits: NASA's Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
On Oct. 23 at 17:30 UTC (1:30 p.m. EDT) NASA’s Terra satellite saw the eastern quadrant of Hurricane Patricia over Mexico and the storm’s pinhole eye. Credits: NASA’s Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

“Hurricane #Patricia looks menacing from @space_station. Stay safe below,” tweeted Kelly, who just broke the American record for most time spent in space.
Patricia is making landfall near the tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta, the town of Cuixmala and the city of Manzanillo along Mexico’s Pacific coast, as it slightly weakens to 165 mph (265 km/h) with destructive force.

Here is the latest Hurricane Patricia animation from NOAA:
rb_lalo-animated 102315

Patricia is the most powerful storm ever to make landfall and many millions live in its path that is expected to track eastwards across inland areas of Mexico and then move up into the United States at Texas with flooding rains.

The Mexican government has warned millions to take shelter to evacuate. Over 15000 tourists have been evacuated from Puerto Vallarta to other regions. But the effort was hampered since the airport has been closed.

Catastrophic destruction to homes, businesses and infrastructure is feared.

Some 10 to 20 inches of rain is expected along the coast, causing mudslides across Mexico.

Waves heights exceeding 30 feet are also expected.

Heavy rains and flash flooding will continue into the US with the heaviest downpours expected in Texas and Louisiana.

Hurricane Patricia on Oct. 23, 2015 from the National Hurricane Center
Hurricane Patricia on Oct. 23, 2015 from the National Hurricane Center

Here’s the 7 PM CDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center:


“The center of Hurricane Patricia was located near latitude 19.5 North, longitude 104.9 West. Patricia ismoving toward the north-northeast near 15 mph (24 km/h) and this motion is expected to continue with some increase in forward speed tonight and Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Patricia should continue to move inland over southwestern Mexico.

Patricia is expected to move quickly north-northeastward across western and northern Mexico through Saturday.

Satellite images indicate that Patricia has continued to weaken, and maximum sustained winds are estimated to be near 160 mph (260 km/h) with higher gusts. Patricia is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Patricia is forecast to rapidly weaken over the mountains of Mexico and dissipate on Saturday.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 924 mb (27.29 inches).”

Here’s a video of Hurricane Patricia from the ISS taken today, Oct 23, 2015.

Video caption: Outside the International Space Station, cameras captured dramatic views of Hurricane Patricia at 12:15 p.m. EDT on October 23, 2015 as the mammoth system moved north at about 10 mph, heading for a potentially catastrophic landfall along the southwest coast of Mexico sometime during the day, according to the National Hurricane Center. Packing winds of 200 miles per hour, Patricia is the strongest in recorded history in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. The National Hurricane Center says that once Patricia crosses the Mexican coast it should weaken quickly and dissipate Oct. 24 due to upper level winds and mountainous terrain, but likely will introduce copious amounts of rainfall to the Texas coast through the weekend. Credit: NASA

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

Hurricane Patricia approaches Mexico in this image taken by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the ISS on Oct. 23, 2015. Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly
Hurricane Patricia approaches Mexico in this image taken by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the ISS on Oct. 23, 2015. Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly

9 Replies to “Monster Cat 5 Hurricane Patricia Strongest Ever Recorded Menaces Millions in Mexico; Seen from ISS”

  1. The fantastic weather pictures published here are always from the ISS, it seems. Aren’t there droves of weather satellites up there which also take such stunning images?

    1. There ARE droves of weather satellites up there. (Fewer & fewer as time goes by, but still: droves.) Very few if any possess a hi-def camera with a wide, easily aim-able field of view AND the same LEO perspective enjoyed by the ISS.

      Most weather sats with cameras are up in geosynch orbit, and most of the rest don’t actually take pictures/video in visible light since they’re busy sensing other weather-related items like precip, CO2, etc. in other wavelengths. Visible, or even near-IR images from LEO birds are of limited usefulness in terms of forecasting or storm tracking because they can’t see as much of the Earth, and they can only see each bit for a few minutes at a time; they’re good for getting a general sense of the entire planet in just a few days (missions like the TRMM come to mind), but bad for seeing what’s happening at any given spot except when right overhead.

      As a result, the stunning images such as the ones published here are pretty much solely the purview of astronauts, weather balloons, sounding rockets & one-off Cube-sat-type missions.

  2. The central USA is not ‘out of the woods’ on this storm. That sucker’s going to go over the Gulf of Mexico and possibly re-strengthen? The flooding back East and in the Midwest has already been phenomenal. i.e. Texas and the Carolina’s don’t need any more rain… Dzzz

    Meanwhile, here in middle Northern California, we wait. Yesterday I went into my garage and found my wetsuit and emergency supplies. The wife said that maybe we should buy that generator I’ve wanted soon? I agreed…

    1. OUCH! I think a globally warmed El Nino will run for president…. Congress isn’t the only disaster you know.

      P.S. God bless us and tell me when I should start building the boat…
      P.P.S Send Michael and some oars.
      P.P.P.S Get ready Y’all. Got evac plans?

  3. Is this site censored?
    I posted a comment about the incorrect statement that “Patricia, the strongest storm in recorded history”. It is not and I provided a list to show otherwise. My entire comment has been removed. I would like to know why.

  4. I’ve emailed Fraser and the UT social media director about this, nigelq; apparently they’re working on it. You aren’t the only one losing posts of a particular persuasion here.

    Over time I’ve seen that nearly all comments are allowed to stay, and the ones removed usually have a post from a moderator following the action to explain why [off-topic, personal attack, self-promotion of off-site web content, etc.], so I don’t think “censorship,” per se, is generally practiced here. That said, the fact that only our posts are going missing — and with no explanation — leads me to believe someone’s playing some below-board games they shouldn’t.

    I have no solid proof, and I hope I’m wrong, but there you are.

    1. Smokey. It is interesting that only you have commented on this. I would have expected an administrator or moderator to have the courtesy to respond. Hence, I used the word “censorship” rather than “mistake” or technical error. Surely there is someone who can explain the “removed” comments.

  5. The only response I’ve gotten so far via email is “Yep, your facts seem square,” and “We’re looking into it.” There’s been no response here, or anywhere else publically that I’ve seen though.

    After a week’s time, I’d say your point stands, nigelq. Fair warning to all posters: your comments may not be safe.

Comments are closed.