Patricia Downgraded To Tropical Depression, Floods Expected In Mexico & Texas

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Update: This story was updated at 12 p.m. on October 24, 2015, to include the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center. It was originally published at 10:25 a.m. on October 23, 2015.

As of 10 a.m. CT on Saturday, October 24, Hurricane Patricia was downgraded to a tropical depression, according to the National Hurricane Center. Patricia will reportedly continue to weaken as it makes its way over the mountains of central Mexico, but is still expected to produce heavy rainfall with accumulations of 8 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches, and potential wind speeds of 74 to 119 mph over the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco (includes Guadalajara, population over 4 million), Colima, Michoacán, and Guerrero (including Acapulco). The National Hurricane Center warns this could still result in "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides" in these regions throughout the day. Though Hurricane Patricia became the strongest hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere,
Mexico was able to dodge major damage. CBS News reported that the fast-moving Category 5 storm avoided direct hits on the resort city of Puerto Vallarta and major port city of Manzanillo. There were reports of flooding and landslides, but there were no reports of fatalities or major damage. "All the streets here in town are full of downed trees all over the place," an eyewitness from the coastal resort town Hotel Barra de Navidad told CBS. "You have to make your way around all the downed telephone poles, the power lines, the trees." Tourists in Puerto Vallarta braced for the worst, but were surprised how calm things stayed throughout the storm. "It's amazing. It went from the worst in history to just some heavy rain," a woman from Detroit said. In a taped address on Friday, President Enrique Peña Nieto told residents "damages have been minor to those corresponding to a hurricane of this magnitude," but, "it is very important that the population stays in the shelters. The security forces will be patrolling to protect their homes. I repeat, we still can't let our guard down." The U.S. National Weather Service reports that the remnants of Patricia will cause bouts of heavy rain throughout Texas, causing flash flood warnings to be in effect through Sunday morning for Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio. A coastal flood warning is also in effect through 7 p.m. Sunday for the city of Houston. "The Astros are done playing, the Texans are out of town, and the Rockets are still in the preseason," Houston Mayor Annise Parker said. "There's no reason to go anywhere. It's a great weekend to have a movie night with the kids, game night, family night, and just stay off the roads." Heavy rains in central Texas have already resulted in local area law enforcement receiving calls of people trapped in cars, according to the Austin Statesman. Officials in Texas are urging drivers to stay off the road, if at all possible. Overnight, the city of Corsicana, which is about 50 miles south of Dallas, was hit with an estimated 16 inches of rain, causing a freight train to derail early this morning. The two crew members were able to swim to safety and no one else was hurt.

Update: This story was updated at 8 p.m. to include the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center. It was originally published at 10:25 a.m. on October 23, 2015.
One of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded has made landfall in Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Patricia, an "extremely dangerous" Category 5 storm, was moving farther inland over southwestern Mexico Friday evening, the center said. The storm brought high winds, rain and "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions" to a region that includes the tourism hub of Puerto Vallarta. Forecasters, who urged residents along the coast to evacuate immediately, also warned of potentially fatal floods and mudslides. "An extremely dangerous storm surge is expected to continue to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the right of where the center of Patricia made landfall," the center said in a 7 p.m. EDT advisory. "Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves."

Winds as high as 200 mph
were registered Friday as the storm barreled toward the coast. The storm is the strongest ever recorded in the eastern North Pacific, the center said.
Officials in Mexico declared a state of emergency throughout the region in the storm's path, a stretch of coast that includes a major port and the resort community of Puerto Vallarta, according to The Associated Press. Local residents scrambled to stock up on supplies and prepare for the storm as rain poured.

The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization told the AP that the storm could rival Typhoon Haiyan, a 2013 storm that left more than 7,000 dead or missing in the Philippines.

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