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Strongest hurricane in Western hemisphere heads for Mexico | Canadian Insurance
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Strongest hurricane in Western hemisphere heads for Mexico

Hurricane Patricia is projected to come ashore on Friday afternoon or evening

The strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western hemisphere is headed for Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Patricia’s power was comparable to that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines two years ago, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization.

Read more: What if it got worse than Hurricane Sandy? 

In Mexico, officials declared a state of emergency in dozens of municipalities in Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco states that contain the bustling port of Manzanillo and the posh resort of Puerto Vallarta. The governor of Colima ordered schools closed on Friday, when the storm was forecast to make what the Hurricane Center called a “potentially catastrophic landfall.”

Rain pounded Manzanillo late Thursday while people took last-minute measures ahead of Patricia, which quickly grew from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane, leaving authorities scrambling to make people safe.

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The Hurricane Center in Miami warned that preparations should be rushed to completion, saying the storm could cause coastal flooding, destructive waves and flash floods.

“This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” centre meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

Feltgen said Patricia also poses problems for Texas. Forecast models indicate that after the storm breaks up over land, remnants of its tropical moisture will likely combine with and contribute to heavy rainfall that is already soaking Texas independently of the hurricane, he said.

“It’s only going to make a bad situation worse,” he said.

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In Colima, authorities handed out sandbags to help residents protect their homes from flooding.

By early Friday, Patricia’s maximum sustained winds had increased to 325 kph–a Category 5 storm, the highest designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to quantify a hurricane’s wind strength.

Patricia was centred about 255 kilometres south-southwest of Manzanillo early Friday and was moving northwest at 7 km/h on a projected track to come ashore between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta sometime Friday afternoon or evening.