The strongest hurricane on record in the northern eastern Pacific basin is now Hurricane Patricia, which is currently 150 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico. The central pressure of the storm has been measured by Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft at 880 mb, the lowest ever measured by the National Hurricane Center which is responsible for the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins. Maximum sustained winds are 200 mph, also one of the strongest ever.
Even more remarkable, just 36 hours ago Patricia was only a tropical storm with estimated pressure of 994 mb and wind speeds of 64 mph. By 10pm last night, the storm had intensified from Tropical Storm to Category 5 intensity in just 24 hours, an increase of nearly 100mph in wind speed and a drop of 70 mb in pressure. According to the National Hurricance Center, “This is a remarkable feat, with only Linda of 1997 intensifying at this rate in the satellite era.” Now just 12 additional hours later the storm has dropped another44 mb in pressure and gained an additional 40 mph of wind speed.
The storm is forecast to make landfall along the Mexican coast as a catastrophic Category 5 storm later today.
Infrared satellite image courtesy of NOAA at http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/floaters/20E/20E_floater.html