Record breaking Hurricane Patricia hits Western Mexico

Patricia, strongest hurricane ever recorded, causes less damage than feared as it hits Patricia state in Western Mexico

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Hurricane Patricia, a Category 5 storm, is seen approaching the coast of Mexico in a NASA picture

Record-breaking Hurricane Patricia rumbled across western Mexico on Friday, uprooting trees and triggering some landslides but causing less damage than feared so far for such a massive storm, officials said.

Authorities relocated coastal residents, evacuated tourists from beach hotels and closed sea ports, airports and schools in several states before Patricia made landfall in Jalisco state as a huge category five hurricane.

Patricia had grown into the strongest hurricane ever recorded hours before reaching the coast, raising fears that it would bring death and destruction across the country.

But almost five hours after landfall, President Enrique Pena Nieto addressed the nation on television, saying that the first reports "confirm that the damages have been smaller than those corresponding to a hurricane of this magnitude."

But Pena Nieto urged Mexicans to stay in shelters, warning that Patricia still posed a threat, with heavy rain expected across several regions.

"We can't let our guard down yet. I insist, the most dangerous part of thehurricane has yet to enter the national territory," said Pena Nieto, whose country has seen deadly devastation from hurricanes before.

The hurricane crashed ashore in the town of Emiliano Zapata in the early evening, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) west of the major port of Manzanillo, according to National Water Commission director Roberto Ramirez.

The US National Hurricane Center said Patricia weakened marginally when it made landfall, with maximum winds of 270 kilometers per hour.

As it moved further inland late Friday, the hurricane was downgraded to category four, with 215 kph winds, and remained "extremely dangerous," the center said.

Patricia peaked at 325 kph several hours earlier -- more powerful than the 315 kph winds of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 dead or missing when it struck the Philippines in November 2013.

But Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval wrote on Twitter that "there have been no reports of deaths for the moment."

More than 6,300 people were in shelters in Jalisco.

In the state of Colima, where Manzanillo lies, some 350 trees ripped out of the ground "but fortunately there is only material damage," Agriculture Minister Jose Calzada told Milenio television.

Some landslides blocked the Colima-Manzanillo highway, said Transport Ministry Gerardo Ruiz Esparza.