Mexico braces for Hurricane Patricia, the hemisphere’s strongest on record

Men fill sandbags in preparation for Hurricane Patricia.
Men fill sandbags in preparation for Hurricane Patricia.

By Deborah Bonello and Alexandra Zavis / Los Angeles Times

Tens of thousands of people were evacuating Friday as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere rolled toward the popular resorts and small fishing villages that dot Mexico’s central Pacific coastline.

Patricia was upgraded overnight to a Category 5 storm after growing at “an incredible rate” over a 12-hour span, according to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, or WMO, which warned that preparations should be expedited.

On Twitter, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto warned that the nation had never seen a hurricane this strong and promised special measures to provide protection.

The army was attempting to get people into shelters up and down the coast. Media outlets urged residents not to underestimate the strength of the storm and to heed official warnings to take cover.

“Everything in the street, such as cars, are going to turn into projectiles, so it’s very important that people seek shelter,” said Ricardo de la Cruz, director of civilian protection.

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