Last update: October 21st, 2019 at 9:00 am
On October 25, 2015, the remnants of the strongest hurricane on record were soaking Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi as they headed towards the Mid-Atlantic and the northeastern United States. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) that flies aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on October 25 at 17:15 UTC (1:15 p.m. EDT). At that time the center of the system was over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico and powerful thunderstorms were drenching the Gulf States.
The first advisories on Hurricane Patricia were issued on October 20, and it reached peak strength as a Category 5 hurricane, based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, on October 23. Once slamming into Mexico, Patricia lost strength quickly, going from a strong Category 4 hurricane to a tropical depression within 24 hours on October 24. It then became a remnant low pressure area and combined with a low pressure area over Texas to create a torrential and flooding rain situation in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Up to 20 inches of rain were reported in Texas and up to 12 in inches fell in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Hurricane Patricia’s maximum sustained winds were measured at 200 mph (321.9 km/h) shortly before landfall at 7:15 p.m. EDT on October 23. According to Bob Henson writing for Weather Underground, this was the highest reliably-measured surface winds in any cyclone on Earth. Despite the high winds, Patricia was, fortunately, small and fast-moving, and the rugged terrain offshore helped tear the storm apart quickly. Landfall was in a lightly-populated area of southwestern Mexico, so damage was minimized, considering the strength of the storm. However, the region was battered by high winds, and flooding was severe in some areas. At least 8 people were reported dead from the storm in Mexico.