Hurricane Patricia

This picture comes from my phone, from the Living Earth app.
The tiny light blue dot is where Cuernavaca is situated
It was billed as the biggest hurricane ever in the Pacific and probably in the world, and everyone got into a panic. Hurricane Patricia formed very quickly and rose to become a category 5 phenomenon in what is considered a short period of time, just over a day. The Mexican government got into action and said everyone on the coast of the states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco should be evacuated immediately. Lots of people did leave, especially the tourists, while others moved into shelters, others left to be with families in places further inland, others stayed preferring to sit it out. The usual things happened just before the hurricane hit: panic buying in supermarkets, businesses closing early, taping over of windows as not much time for anything else, people deciding where to sit it out in their houses. Everyone knew someone in Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo or in other places, it was THE conversation of the moment last Friday, and everyone was worried. Just what could this biggest ever hurricane do to us all? Would it wipe whole towns off the face of the earth? Even here in Morelos we thought we would be afflicted with heavy rain…

Hurricane Patricia, a category 5 storm, is seen approaching the coast of Mexico in a Nasa picture taken from the International Space Station on 23 October. This picture was published by the Guardian

The media, as well as the government, whipped this pending catastrophe into a global news phenomenon and I started receiving lots of messages via WhatsApp and email from friends and family in the UK. We’re fine I said to everyone, but further north they are not. However, what actually happened? A hurricane of this size should have left appalling damage but it didn’t. It slammed into Mexico racing over the coast and came up against the Sierra Madre and various other mountain ranges and immediately reduced its intensity. Fortunately. It headed towards Guadalajara, capital of the state of Jalisco, and even threatened Monterrey, capital of the state of Nuevo León. There was flooding, some people did lose their houses, crops were flattened, but no one died and the infrastructure held up. Amazing. And here in Morelos we had some interesting cloud formations but no rain at all. In fact, on Friday evening it was really hot. We were all at Cuernavaca Cathedral at an art exhibit and everyone was complaining about the heat, and asking where the rain was.

I took these 2 photos on my way home on Friday 23 October, we don't usually see clouds like that, especially not at this time of year. And the yellow flowers are cempasuchitl, already out and on sale for Day of the Dead.

Yes, people are suffering as a result of this hurricane, yes, there was considerable damage and yes, they are asking people to donate to help the cause. But nothing like what we imagined would happen. Quite extraordinary really. I think that we were lucky this time, very lucky indeed. The conditions were perfect for the creation of this massive storm: El Niño conditions, warm waters in the Pacific, plenty of humidity in the air, etc. There is no doubt that global warming, climate change and a year of severe El Niño conditions contributed.  As I say, we were lucky. 


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