One of the strongest ever hurricanes lashed western Mexico with rain and winds, causing chaos in coastal towns and resorts. Hurricane Patricia (Spanish pronunciation: [paˈtɾisia]) is an active, weakening tropical cyclone impacting mostly Western Mexico. At its peak, it was the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Western Hemisphere in terms of barometric pressure and the strongest globally in terms of reliably measured maximum sustained winds. Originating from a sprawling disturbance near the Gulf of Tehuantepec in mid-October 2015, Patricia was first classified a tropical depression on October 20. Initial development was slow, with only modest strengthening within the first day of its classification. The system later became a tropical storm and was named Patricia, the twenty-fourth named storm of the 2015 Pacific hurricane season. Exceptional environmental conditions fueled explosive intensification on October 22. A well-defined eye developed within an intense central dense overcast and Patricia grew from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 24 hours. The rate of intensification was greater than that of any other Pacific hurricane on record in the satellite-era (1960s–present)—only Hurricane Linda in 1997 strengthened at a similar rate.
Late on October 23, Patricia became only the second Pacific hurricane on record to make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, after the 1959 Mexico hurricane, and the first to strike either coast of Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane since Dean in 2007. The precursor to Patricia produced widespread, flooding rains in Central America. Hundreds of thousands of people were directly affected by the storm, mostly in Guatemala. At least six fatalities have been attributed to the event: four in El Salvador, one in Guatemala, and one in Nicaragua.
On October 14, 2015, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring the possibility of tropical cyclogenesis over the far eastern Pacific, near the Gulf of Tehuantepec, as an area of low pressure was expected to form. This feature later consolidated on October 17, with a large area of convection—showers and thunderstorms—spanning several hundred miles from Central America westward over open waters. Under favorable environmental conditions, the low steadily organized and associated convection became more concentrated around its center. The system soon interacted with a Tehuantepec gap wind event on October 18, temporarily delaying development of the disturbance into a tropical depression. Drifting west-southwest in response to a ridge over the Gulf of Mexico, the disturbance consolidated throughout October 20. At 15:00 UTC, the system acquired sufficient convective organization to be classified Tropical Depression Twenty-E. Upon its designation, the depression was situated roughly 445 mi (715 km) east-southeast of Acapulco, Mexico.
Across Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco, and Nayarit, 1,782 shelters were opened on October 22 with a collective capacity of 258,000 people. Officials in Manzanillo began distributing sandbags during the afternoon of October 22. Schools across Jalisco suspended activities for October 23. Puerto Vallarta is also preparing for the high winds and storm surge.