Wow! Who would have thought that in an otherwise quiet hurricane season, the Western Hemisphere would observe its strongest hurricane ever on record! What started as Tropical Storm Patricia on October 20th off the coast of Mexico in the Eastern Pacific rapidly intensified into an unprecedented category 5 hurricane in just two days! With a remarkable pressure drop of 100mb in just 24 hours, Patricia shares the record for fastest intensification with Typhoon Forrest which accomplished the same feat in 1983. Patricia reached peak strength during the early morning of October 23, 2015 with a minimum pressure of 879 mb, roaring sustained winds at 200 mph and howling gusts at 245 mph!
Never has the Western Hemisphere encountered such an intense tropical cyclone since records began at the start of the satellite era in the 1960s. Patricia’s pressure sunk lower than Hurricane Wilma's 882 mb in 2005 and topped Allen's 190 mph sustained winds in 1980 to take the top spot among Western Hemispheric Tropical Cyclones. Fortunately, Patricia weakened before its landfall shortly before 7PM on October 23, 2015 along the southwest Mexico coast but remained a ferocious category 5 hurricane with a pressure of 920 mb and sustained winds of 165 mph. Thanks to the region's mountainous terrain, Patricia weakened just as quickly as it strengthened upon landfall and downgraded to a remnant low by 4PM on October 24th. Since it made landfall in an agricultural rich area, crop damage was severe, amounting to 3.3 billion dollars; however, the death toll was low (6 total) as it hit less populated regions. Its remnant moisture did travel northward and after combining with a system in the Gulf, brought heavy rain to areas of the US, including the Northeast. To learn just how powerful Patricia was compared to other notable tropical cyclones, see our table below.