The strongest hurricane recorded in history had Mexico holding its breath Friday as residents prepared for its "potentially catastrophic" landfall later in the day. Hurricane Patricia, which grew to a Category 5 storm Thursday night, swirled off the country's western coast with 200 mph winds while meteorologists attempted to pinpoint what areas would be hit hardest.
As of 11 a.m. EDT Friday, Patricia was located 125 miles southwest of Manzanillo and moving north at about 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was expected to turn north-northeast in the afternoon and make landfall Friday night. But tropical storm conditions had already begun affecting parts of the southern coast, where authorities had issued a hurricane warning from San Blas to Punta San Telmo.
The states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guererro were set to get between 8 to 12 inches of rain through Saturday, with some parts getting up to 20, according to the center. The popular tourist towns of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco and Manzanillo in Colima could see especially bad flooding and storm surge as the system moves through. By midday Saturday, Patricia could be near Torreón and could later soak Texas.
Thoughts and prayers for the people in Patricia's path. This could be devastating. pic.twitter.com/1rGBbxDPVI
— Shay Ryan (@TampaBayWeather) October 23, 2015
— CONAGUA Clima (@conagua_clima) October 23, 2015
Up to 400,000 people were at risk from the storm, BBC News reported. Some residents and visitors had already begun evacuating Friday morning, and the Mexican government canceled all activities after 12:30 p.m. local time in several states. "Everything looks normal right now, but the most dangerous things will be strong waves and rains," gift shop employee David Gonzalez told Reuters. "We'll definitely have to take precautions. We're going to a shelter shortly."
Patricia reportedly rivaled Typhoon Haiyan, the deadly 2013 storm that killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines, in strength. The last -- and only -- Category 5 hurricane to pass over land on Mexico's Pacific coast was in 1959. It caused 1,800 fatalities, the Weather Channel reported.