Hurricane Patricia: strongest ever in western hemisphere

Hurricane Patricia has recently been making headlines as the strongest on record for the Pacific, but early indication of the aftermath suggests that fortunately it will not be remembered for unprecedented damage and losses.

Patricia broke two records: it became the strongest tropical cyclone in the Western Hemisphere in terms of minimum barometric pressure (880 mb), and also the strongest globally in terms of maximum sustained winds (200 mph).

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Patricia as it approaches the Mexican coast.

Thousands of homes have been damaged, many have been left without power, and vast swathes of farmland have been destroyed. But why has the destruction been so limited?

Despite record-breaking conditions in its development, Patricia began weakening rapidly as it moved across the rugged terrain of Mexico.

Reports also suggest that other factors such as low population density in the landfall area, and the relatively compact zone of highest winds, helped mitigate the impacts. Mexican authorities are also being praised for timely and effective evacuation efforts.