23 October 2015
Hurricane Patricia continues to maintain category 5 level, and hurricane hunters have measured the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. The hot waters from El Nino are probably playing a role here, and it now looks nearly certain that Patricia will cause severe flooding and destruction, with a deadly storm surge as it makes landfall tonight. Astronaut Scott Kelly (on the ISS) sent back this view of Patricia from low Earth orbit today:
Typhoon Tip (in the Western Pacific back in 1979) had a pressure of 870 millibars, and this is the world record minimum sea-level pressure that has been recorded. This measurement was reliable, so Tip still remains the strongest storm ever measured on the planet. If you want to know more about Tip, Wikipedia has a good write-up on Tip here.
The threat of flooding rains is greatly enhanced by the topography, with the elevations rising to nearly a mile high by the time you reach 100 miles inland, and even higher along the mountains. The only possible good news is that the storm will move fairly quickly. Notice the plume of moisture from Patricia, across Mexico, and into Texas and the Gulf this evening. A low pressure system, will develop along the Texas coast and with the added moisture from Patricia, flooding rains are very possible this weekend across much of Southern Texas. Over ten inches of rain is possible, based on reliable weather models.