If it seems to you that crazy weather aberrations were more frequent this year (or the new norm, in fact), then you’d be right. The number of hurricanes or typhoons to reach Category 4 or 5 strength smashed the previous record in the Northern hemisphere this year, and Hurricane Patricia is in fact the strongest ever recorded in the Western hemisphere. That’s two records in one year. It makes you think (or at least it should).
This probably isn’t what you expected to hear, especially since the news hasn’t been overly saturated with hurricane warnings for states usually in their path. That’s because most of this year’s hurricanes (so far) were situated in the Pacific, whereas the only Atlantic hurricane to reach the aforementioned strength requirement was Joaquin.
Make no mistake, though: so far in 2015 there have been a record-breaking 22 Category 4 or 5 hurricanes and typhoons in the Northern hemisphere. This is a substantial increase from the old record of 18 during 2004. Not sure what all this means? Here’s food for thought: from 1990 until 2014, there was an average of only 12.5 storms recorded. The number does fluctuate, but not usually by so much.
Then there’s something else to think about: Hurricane Patricia is the strongest ever recorded in the Western hemisphere, with maximum sustained winds of 200 mph (325 kph). This is according to hurricane special Dave Roberts with the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
It’s difficult to calculate exactly what the locals should expect, but the amount of destruction will be incredible. The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization said Hurricane Patricia is comparable in power to Haiyan, a typhoon that hit the Phillipines two years ago and left many thousands dead or missing and caused $2.86 billion in damage.
Hopefully Mexico will be more prepared. Officials have already declared a state of emergency in many of the regions that lie in the path of Hurricane Patricia. Many of these areas are popular vacation spots for tourists, already devastating the industry for the foreseeable future.
Patricia is projected to make landfall someplace between Manzanillo and Puerta Vallarta Friday afternoon or evening, and still expected to retain its Category 5 strength when it does. The storm will inundate the region with at least 6 to 12 inches of rain, with some areas expecting up to 20 inches.
It’s probably time to start demanding answers to the serious questions that have been posed regarding climate change and the likelihood of increasingly frequent abnormal weather activity. We know it’s happening. Let’s get real: hurricane season doesn’t end until November 30. It’s time to do something, because Hurricane Patricia is only the beginning.