Strongest hurricane ever measured heads towards Mexico - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Strongest hurricane ever measured heads towards Mexico

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Hurricane Patricia became the strongest storm ever measured on the planet early Friday, with experts warning it could trigger 40-foot waves along Mexico's coast and "life-threatening" flash flooding.

More than 7 million residents were told to prepare for the "worst-case scenario" as Patricia was expected to race ashore on Mexico's Pacific coast between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET Friday. The tourist magnets of Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo were directly in the Category 5 storm's projected path.

Packing 200 mph winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center described Patricia as the "strongest hurricane on record" in the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific Basins.

TRACK THE STORM | Channel 3 Hurricane Tracker

NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins warned that Patricia would be "the most devastating storm to ever hit Mexico" with "catastrophic damage" likely between the posh resort of Puerto Vallarta and the bustling port city of Manzanillo.

While typhoons Nancy and Violet had stronger estimated winds, Patricia was the strongest storm ever actually observed, Karins added. Patricia already has "put on quite a show" in how rapidly and unexpectedly it has strengthened, he said.

Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines in 2013, made landfall with 190 mph winds. Patricia is poised to surpass that record, Karins said.

At 10 a.m. ET, Patricia was about 125 miles southwest of Manzanillo, and about 195 miles south of Cabo Corrientes.

Hurricane warnings stretched from San Blas to Punta San Telmo, an area that includes Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. CONAGUA, the Mexican national water commission, predicted waves about 40 feet at landfall.

The National Hurricane Center said it was expected to produce deadly rip currents and "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides."

It added: "Some fluctuations in intensity are possible today, but Patricia is expected to remain an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane through landfall."

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