Hurricane Patricia, a massive and quickly developing storm in the eastern Pacific Ocean, is bearing down on the Mexican state of Jalisco with record-setting sustained winds of 200 mph (321 kmh) or more.
Hurricane strength is based on the minimum central barometric pressure—the lower the pressure, the bigger the storm. Early this morning (Oct. 23), US Air Force “Hurricane Hunter” planes flew into the storm and measured a pressure of 880 millibars, well below the previous record.
(Lower pressures, and thus bigger storms, have been recorded in other parts of the world, where large storms such as these are called typhoons or cyclones, rather than hurricanes.)
As Gawker’s Vane blog noted, the storm is so strong that the air temperature thousands of feet above the eye was measured at 89°F (31.8°C).
The US National Hurricane Center said Patricia was on track to make a ”potentially catastrophic landfall in southwestern Mexico.” The tourist hubs of Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco are in danger due to damaging winds, heavy rains, flooding, and landslides.
The storm, fueled by the warm waters of El Niño, developed very quickly: