With maximum sustained winds near 200 mph (325 kph), Hurricane Patricia is the strongest storm ever recorded in the eastern Pacific or in the Atlantic, says Dave Roberts, a hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
“This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” center 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.
Those on that Latin American country's west coast are no stranger to tropical storms, of course. But Patricia is special, in part because of the global, regular weather phenomenon known as El Niño.
Among other effects, El Niño has contributed to ocean waters off Mexico being 2 to 3 degrees warmer than usual.
"That warm water from El Niño probably just pushed this slightly over the edge to be the strongest storm on record," CNN's [Chad] Myers said.